Thursday, October 9, 2008

The big news

UPDATED: I removed all tell tales of who I am and where I live, so if you know me and want the details of the award, email me! I will gladly share as I am very proud of this little community!
Original post with edits:
As I have said many many times, I live in a very small town - of less than 4,700 people. I am originally from a suburb of Minneapolis, so this small town life was a huge culture shock. But the interesting thing is I discovered that I really had a passion for small town living.

So when I took this job in my small town, I knew that good things would happen. That is not to say that I am making it happen, but I am definitely inventing some wheels and greasing some very squeaky, very abused wheels and making some changes happen. And I am very proud of what I do. Its not often that you hear someone say they take pride in a job that beats them down daily and makes them wonder why they do it. But I know why I do... I have huge passion for this town. And I want it to succeed.

In June I received a call that we had been selected as finalists for an Award, I was giddy. Giddy because I was told that finalists are chosen for: Population under 10,000; showing a progressive plan towards a thriving economy; strong community pride; strong community values; diversity and the willingness to work with diverse groups of people; youth retention programs; and youth involvement in community; and at least one member bank in their town (we have 3).

I knew we had it - we just had to. Because while we met and exceeded most of the qualities, and we working really hard on the ones that needed improvement.

The process to be chosen as the winner was in the form of an application. We had three questions to answer. How we answered them was important. We could have sent bulleted responses that were very specific to their needs. We could have sent para graphical narratives that met their requirements. But I like to think outside the box.

Looking at the task at hand as an opportunity to use my creativity I decided to tackle the project on Power Point. What better way to show your pride than to inject a little history, a whole lot of photo's, and a whole lot of story telling. I made phone calls and got details of projects that I wasn't fully knowledgeable in; I contacted the Historical Society and got good solid information on our history; I called the schools and made sure that they were well represented. Forty pages later I was MORE impressed with what we had done as a community.

And then I took a step back and thought, I really don't have an ending to my story. I am missing something. That last little detail that I found out last night was one of the things that most impressed the people who were on the selection committee.

I wrote a thank you letter.

I submitted the application on June 28th, and then waited on pins and needles.

Fast forward to July 29th. I had spent 3 weeks in and out of the hospital, and was having my third and final minor surgery on my kidney when I received an email from my contact. I still wasn't back at work, and I am really glad she didn't spill it in the email, but rather asked me to call her when I was able to.

On my first day back at work the phone was ringing as I walked into the office. What a wonderful way to be welcomed back!
I work very closely with a department head at City Hall who helped me write portions of the application. Even though her name was on the application, she still had not heard we won. So I devised a little plan. Knowing I had a ton of mail, email and phone messages to go through there was already a set up for a disastrous encounter - fake of course.

So I strategically placed a sign that read "WE WON" inside a manila folder, and atop it laid a report we had worked on that was thorny in nature and had been causing us great angst. I walked across the street to her office, tossed the file on her desk, huffed into the chair across from her, and exclaimed "You are not going to believe the phone call I just received". She looked scared. She wouldn't open the folder, only asking me to explain. I told her she needed to look at the file. Upon opening it she panicked even more as she thought we had ironed out all of the wrinkles. I told her to read on. She did.

Then she saw it.

The folder went flying, and she came running around the other side of the desk, joining me in a little girlie jumping clapping screaming cheering crying jumping giggling clapping screaming dance. In the middle of City Hall.

And that was the story we shared last night as we were presented with the award, and a nice check that our community can use towards a project of our choice.

The wait was full of busy planning. My contact did most of the planning, we just needed to provide the guest list, and help her coordinate our trip to Minneapolis.

They paid for everything. They chartered buses, allowed us to invite as many people as we wanted, paid for gas and mileage for the 4 cars that went separate from the bus, and they even held rooms that they would have paid for had anyone chosen to stay over night. They hired a well known signer song writer to compose a song that included lyrics taken directly from responses made by invitee's when they RSVP'd for the event.

Oh and the the food and beverage. Hand passed hor d'oeuvre's. A four course 5 star dinner, and goody bags packed with amazing gifts. For 50 people from our little town, 30 of their Board members, and several staff members of our local Senators offices.

It was incredible.

And it still is.

And we are incredibly proud!!!
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