Have you ever aspired to fulfill a dream that seemed completely unattainable without the help of some sort of miracle? In these instances, it’s the generosity of non-profit organizations such as A Bridge for Kids that really make the impossible suddenly possible. As an organization, they focus on helping students who excel academically but come from low income households, making it a challenge to pursue a college education. Through their fundraising and sponsorship efforts, A Bridge for Kids is able to help set high-achieving, underprivileged teens on the path to success.The student and Program Director Natalia Worden setting up the event space the morning of
Design Institute of San Diego partnered up with A Bridge for Kids four years ago when they sought help planning their big event: the annual Casino Night fundraiser. Each year since then, DISD students formed an event planning committee to create a different theme and then decorated the venue accordingly for the big event. This year’s theme was “The Magic Continues,” and DISD students Hope Knuckles, Thanh Nguyen and Kathleen Quiroz volunteered for the project. Thanh shared why she was attracted to this opportunity: “When I looked into A Bridge for Kids, I saw that they helped kids that need help to succeed in school. That really touched me because I was one of those kids who needed help. When I saw that there are people coming together helping for this reason, it felt like I needed to be a part of this somehow.”The centerpieces. Photo courtesy of A Bridge for Kids
This year’s student volunteers really wanted the evening to have a different feel from previous Casino Nights. Under the guidance of our Program Director Natalia Trepchina-Worden, the students met with the ABFK representatives to discuss their vision for the gala. Once they had a clearer understanding of what the clients envisioned, the students presented two concepts to them at the following meeting.Our volunteers created this tree as a focal point for the table that shared the stories of the teens needing sponsorship. Photo courtesy of A Bridge for Kids
Once the ABFK partners decided on the direction they wanted to go, our student team divided the tasks among themselves. “I contributed my graphic design experience and helped make the signs, including the welcome sign, sponsorship signs, raffle signs and more,” said Hope. Thanh took on researching up-lighting options and negotiated pricing between the vendors and the committee. “I led the group in overall design,” said Kathleen, and “participated in the selection and purchase of the materials, met and worked directly with the client, helped make the main items for the design, and executed the design on the day of the event.”A close-up of a story shared by a teen in need of sponsorship. Photo courtesy of A Bridge for Kids
In the months leading up to the big event, the student volunteers communicated with the ABFK committee to finalize details. Before they knew it, October 7th rolled around and the day they spent months preparing for finally arrived. Hope, Thanh, Kathleen and Natalia arrived at the La Jolla Country Club, with a mixture of excitement and nervousness, early that morning to begin setting the venue up. Set up went relatively smoothly and everything was in place well before guests began to arrive.
“When the guests walked in, I could see their faces light up and see them looking around,” said Thanh. After the event, the ABFK committee told them that their décor elicited many compliments.The Silent Auction Table. Photo courtesy of A Bridge for Kids
The students stayed to enjoy the Casino Night, and when the event wound down, the team dismantled the décor and packed up for the night. The evening they spent the last few months preparing for had come to an end, and it was another memorable success. The ABFK committee was pleased to announce that the evening raised close to $150,000, funds that will all be used to help low-income teens reach their full potential in education.
As with every meaningful community service project our students take on, there were a lot of valuable lessons learned. “I learned that sometimes people don't always see your vision and not to get discouraged by that,” said Hope. “Through process and different communication techniques, it's possible for them to see your vision and believe in what your creating.”The tree centerpiece. Photo courtesy of A Bridge for Kids
“I consider this experience to be very valuable. Not only did I have the opportunity to design and set up the event, but I was able to learn hands-on experience of how to take a client's ideas and transform them into the design,” Kathleen reflects. “In addition, this experience is something that I can put on my résumé, in my portfolio, in scholarship applications and could even be a future reference. Overall I feel like it was a challenging but great experience and I am very happy that I participated!”