How To Succeed at Community Outreach Events [A case study]

Problem:  

Open the Gates (OTG) is a non-profit with limited staff and resources. Despite this they are able to provide food, entertainment and gifts for refugee kids and parents every year at Christmas at an event called the International Christmas Celebration (ICC).  Refugee children are new to the country and may not speak a lot of English. Most of the parents are struggling and need resources.  They may not have a lot of money to give gifts to their children. The ICC fills a need for food, entertainment, and gifts during the Christmas season, a holiday season that they may not be familiar with.

Photo by Rafid Butrus

Project  

Open the Gates came to Popcorn Press & Media, Inc, with a request for help in planning the 400 person Christmas event.  They also needed help with managing about 50 volunteers prior to and during the party and requesting donations from businesses, individuals and churches.

Photo by Rafid Butrus

Solution:

Popcorn Press & Media, Inc (PPM) took on the pro bono project of planning, promoting, managing volunteers, working with staff and requesting donations for the party.

The first thing was to research ideal locations. They found a facility that is close to where the refugees reside since many don’t have transportation or are struggling with finances.  Since this event had been produced before, they gathered the names of volunteers and donors from the past and added names of targeted businesses to contact. They worked with the staff of Open the Gates (OTG) to produce marketing materials. Videos, email blasts and newsletters were produced by the OTG staff. The staff created graphics for T-shirts and programs and these images were used throughout the marketing promotions to create a consistent theme.  

Photo by Rafid Butrus

A donation letter, since Open The Gates is a 501 (c) 3, was drafted and targeted to businesses. PPM asked companies for donations and walked around the community with the letter to request help. The local community was informed and educated about the need to help these refugees. Some of the companies didn’t realize that many refugees are struggling in their own areas.  Each year, donations were received at a value of food, drinks and gift donations of over $1,500. Working with the president of Open the Gates, they contacted churches and businessmen to receive monetary donations to cover all the costs of the event.

Photo by Rafid Butrus

A few months prior to the event, regular meetings were scheduled with the volunteers and team leads were established for each area of the party. Lead areas included registration, food distribution, kids entertainment, adult entertainment, decorations, security and gift distribution. One of the issues with the refugees is people management, especially since the children can get loud and run around unless they are engaged. The solution was to separate the large conference room into two sections, one for the children’s entertainment and one for the adult’s entertainment The kid’s entertainment included multiple activities so they wouldn’t lose interest. A large volunteer staff was assigned to watch over their activities.

PPM wrote a press release and distributed it to the San Diego media community each year of the party  The Californian newspaper brought a reporter and interviewed Daniel, OTG president, the first year and ran an article* in their paper after the event. The second year, KNSD-TV assigned a reporter and interviewed one of the refugees during the event then ran the segment** during the evening news that same day,

You’ll find the news reports of the event below.

Californian Article” (See below)*

KNSD Report

https://www.nbcsandiego.com/on-air/as-seen-on/Church-Hosts-Refugee-Christmas-Celebration_San-Diego-502871231.html

In order to help one of the refugees’ new businesses, the third year of the party PPM worked with OTG to get donors to support a doll project to give away to some of the girls at the party and for the refugee business to sew and construct the doll.

The goal was to increase the work given to refugees and give free dolls to girls at the party. The goal is to extend the reach of the doll project even more in future years.

See information about the rag dolls here.

 In addition, each year more people are reached through a continuing bread donation effort through Panera Breads Day End Dough-Nation. https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/articles/day-end-dough-nation.html

Since the first Christmas event’s donation, every week PPM, OTG and volunteers have managed picking up bread and distributing it to churches, homeless and needy people throughout San Diego.

Even more, in 2019 a See’s candy fundraiser was conducted to provide candy to the refugee kids during Easter. In home visits were made to the families.

To help with the 2020 International Christmas Celebration go here. https://openthegates.org/contact/ and tell them what you’d like to help with.

*Californian Article

A magical evening at the International Christmas party for local Syrian refugees

Whenever kids show up at a Christmas party for them, they get excited. Throw in a magic show and they’re hyped. But you’ve never seen kids get more amped-up than the group of more than 100 gathered in the lobby at the Ronald Reagan Center in El Cajon on the evening of December 22, 2017. 

When their pastor Daniel Massieh waved his hand above them all, they quieted a little. He had to yell out that they needed to begin lining up to enter the room for the magic show. The noise then went from a dull roar to excited screams. 

The children were Syrian refugees under the leadership of Massieh, who came to the United States from Egypt. A former Muslim who converted to Christianity, Massieh knows intimately the problems of integrating into a strange country with differing traditions, beliefs and culture.  

Helping Muslim refugees survive in their new home in America, and reaching out to them with the gospel of Christ is Massieh’s over-arching purpose in life. He does this, he said, “By breaking the walls, and opening the Gates between the Muslim and Christian community in the US.”  

Open the Gate, established in 2006 by Massieh, offers many community services to refugees, including teaching and bringing Muslims and Christians together as one community through events and conferences. In addition, at the Education center for refugees, Christians dedicate their time in teaching English, math, and other basic information. The volunteers also share their own faith and hope in Christ.

When asked what he believed what was the biggest misunderstanding that Muslims have initially about Christians, Massieh answered, “They believe that Christians are infidels believing in three gods and claiming that God has a son.”

And of the misunderstandings that Christians have of Muslims? “[Christians believe Muslims] are dangerous, difficult, and violent,” he said.

All those misperceptions get cleared up compassionately yet powerfully through the leadership of Massieh and the volunteers at Open the Gates (OTG). The organization offers classes to Christians, as well, to help them understand Islam and to reach out to Muslims without fear.

Massieh had planted the first Middle Eastern Church in San Diego in 1985. Since then, he has helped other denominations plant another five churches in El Cajon. As the founder of OTG, Massieh is able to help many churches to understand Islam and give the hope. He also teaches in different Bible colleges, is a nationwide missionary, speaker and motivator to churches.

His birth name Muhammed Kamel, he was born and raised in Egypt as a devout Muslim. From the time he was seven years old, he studied and memorized the Qur’an. When he was a young man, he learned about Christ and became a follower.

But how did Massieh hear of Christ? “You need to read my best-selling book, “Traitor,”” he said.  

After the secret police in Egypt had arrested him for his faith in Christ and for his telling others the truth about Islam, the Attorney General asked Massieh the reason for his faith in Christ. Massieh answered him by asking three questions.

“Does Allah love you, Mr. Hisham?” He answered, “I don’t know,” said Massieh. 

“Where are you going if you died today? Hell or heaven?’ Massieh asked Mr. Hisham, who answered, “I don’t know.”

Massieh asked the third question, “Is Allah able to change you in Islam?” Mr. HIsham, replied, “No, Allah doesn’t change people in Islam.
Massieh responded with, “Mr. Hisham, if you don’t know if Allah loves you or not, and he will not take you to heaven, and He can’t change you, why are you following Allah in Islam?” 

Then Mr. Hisham asked Massieh the same three questions. 

“I said, ‘Yes, Jesus loves me, He gave me eternal life, and he changed my life. That’s why I am a Christian,’” Massieh said.

Even so, Mr. Hisham ordered solitary confinement in prison for Massieh, with no bed, blanket, heat, shower or restroom—and given only one meal a day. He was also tortured for his beliefs. 

What helped him get through that time in prison, Massieh said, was “My faith in Christ and His promises to me that He had called me to reveal truth about Him to Muslims everywhere I go.”

Having the International Christmas party on December 22 was important, Massieh believes, because it showed Muslims the love of God and changed their minds about Americans and Christians as they reached out to help them.

Volunteers handed out free Bibles and DVDs in the Arabic language to the children and parents. While the children were entertained by Professor Rich’s magic, the adults were in the adjacent room listening to musicians playing Christmas songs in Arabic and English. 

Though the children were excited beyond words to watch the magic show and get a free dinner and presents, there is one thing that really lights up children’s eyes, Massieh said.

“It is when they first hear of Christ and begin to understand his miracles and His love of them,” he said.

0 comments

Reaching Your Goals, The Second Time Around

Lately I’ve been thinking about second chances, how sometimes it takes more than one try to get it right. Our culture tends to assume that businesses can achieve overnight success just by being lucky, but often they just don’t want to advertise when things went wrong.  It’s a nice idea, that overnight success thing, but great story lines have a part where it looks like the main character’s not going to make it.  An example is the La La Land movie. Did they or did they not achieve their dreams in the movie?

Emma small

I won’t give the story line away you’ll have to go see the movie for the answer, but that’s sort of where the excitement is with running a business, right–The idea that you might win. And, even though La La Land didn’t win the Oscar, the mistake that called them as the winner probably gave the movie just as much exposure as the real winner, Moonlight, because most of the producers got to say their acceptance speech as if they had won and the moment will live on in Oscar history. An interesting fact too, is that the 2017 TV viewing was “the second least watched in TV history,” according to Vulture, with 32.9 million viewers. That’s the lowest since 2008, reported by Nielsen, but will probably have a longer exposure time than just one night because of the fiasco.

I believe businesses who can handle problems have the best chance of reaching their goals. Think of some of the Public Relations efforts that took a bad situation with a product and turned it around. One good example is the 1982 Tylenol Cyanide crisis.

A terrible thing happened with their product. According to a report by professor Ron Smith for Buffalo State College students, seven people died near Chicago linked to taking extra strength Tylenol capsules that had 10,000 the lethal dose with 270 copycat tamperings. Although Johnson & Johnson, the parent company, had a crisis plan they hadn’t planned for one on that scale. But they handled the problem the best way they could by cooperating with the police and FDA, engaging the media, recalling 31 million Tylenol bottles, offering to exchange already purchased bottles and then coming back with tamper resistant packaging. They held ongoing media conferences and continued to offer open communication and incentives to customers ending up with a good reputation in the end.

So regardless of how many second chances your business may need to try to reach your goals, keep solving those problems because in the end it’s the ones with the strongest endurance who usually win.  What’s your businesses second chance story?

0 comments

2016 Olympics Ratings

Like in the last Summer Olympics, TV ratings skyrocketed as the opening ceremony kicked off the games.  Here’s a brief recap of the ratings so far on San Diego’s NBC 7/39.

image002

0 comments

KOGO’s The Circus of Politics Panel Discussion

KOGO-AM News Radio 600 held an invitation only event on May 12, 2016 at the Westgate Hotel in San Diego called The Circus of Politics, the Media as Ringmaster. A panel of guests answered questions posed by Ted Garcia of KOGO News. The first question he asked the panelists consisting of Cliff Albert of KOGO News, Tony Manolatos of APEX Strategies, Scott Lewis of Voice of San Diego and Wendy Patrick an Attorney/Legal Analyst and Ethics Professor was to describe the current political season in one word.

Manolatos described it as “Toxic”, Lewis said “Social”, Wendy chose “Unconventional” and Albert asked for a hyphenated word to pass as one word to say it was “Circus-Like”.

Issues discussed included the way Donald Trump uses social media and how the media chooses to cover what he says because he gets high ratings.

One of the panelists brought up the discussion about how people were talking about Facebook blacklisting the right side point of view. One thought that was a ridiculous proposition but another commented that Facebook has algorithms and as a private company they can choose what stories they want to trend.

Trump’s name was brought up repeatedly in the discussion with one person describing him as a product and that he was creating the media. Another said that it was impossible to fact check Donald and that he seems to be trending a “personality is now the message” theme.

Manolatos, when asked how he might help the candidates better brand themselves said that Hillary Clinton has the most political experience of all of them but needed to work on her warmth, that she doesn’t have her husband’s charisma.

On whether or not the media was causing a lot of the “circus-like” atmosphere, one panelist said there are two types of reporters-one that covers the story but doesn’t fact check and another that fact checks and investigates but the story may not be as entertaining. Patrick brought up the idea that people are more worried about the narrative, and often people get it wrong on social media.

They all seemed to agree that the news should be “What Is” but that it is a new media climate where traditional media doesn’t get to choose the news anymore and most people and brands are their own news outlets.

And one more thing about Trump, Garcia said that he is on his way to San Diego and that we need to get ready for him, but a lot of people aren’t.

0 comments

How The 2016 Elections Will Affect Advertising Avails

According to an October 22, 2015 article, “Advertisers May Suffer ‘Political Crowd Out’ As 2016 Elections Near” it is recommended to get in early or sit out in September and October. This suggestion is primarily focused on TV and radio advertisers where ad time is finite.

The article explains that presidential hopefuls will spend a record number of dollars this year with an estimate of 8.5 billion on broadcast TV. Read more here

0 comments

Top Tens

Here are recent Top Ten TV shows and discussions about TV shows from Nielsen Ratings.

TV Shows
(as of December 15, 2015)

1.  NBC Sunday Night Football
2.  Big Bang Theory (CBS)
3.  NCIS (CBS)
4.  Voice (NBC)
5.  Voice-Tue (NBC)
6.  60 Minutes (CBS)
7.  Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick (NBC)
8.  NCIS New Orleans (NBC)
9.  Adele Live in New York (NBC)
10. Life in Pieces (CBS)
Nielsen Twitter TV
(as of January 11, 2016)

1.  Democratic Debate (NBC)
2.  Republican Presidential Candidates Debate (Fox Business)
3.  The Bachelor (ABC)
4.  The 21st Annual Critics Choice Awards (A&E)
5.  Pretty Little Liars (freeform)
6.  Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!)
7.  WWE Monday Night (USA)
8.  American Idol (Fox)
9.  American Horror Story (FX)
10.American Idol (Fox)

0 comments

The La Mesa Boulevard Streetscape Grand Opening will be December 9, 2105

The grand opening of the Downtown Village Streetscape Project in La Mesa will be on December 9, 2015 at 4 p.m.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on La Mesa Boulevard that week celebrating the completion of a streetscape project that began in July 2014. See the Union Tribune story here.

The city website has a more detailed description of the plan here.

That weekend, the popular Christmas in the Village event will take place. It will be on Friday and Saturday evenings, December 11 and 12 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Businesses are encouraged to be a sponsor.  There are limited opportunities this year as La Mesa Boulevard will be open to traffic but expect to still be entertained with the Salvation Army band, Santa, jugglers, Christmas movies, Carolers, and a giant Christmas tree. Shops will be decked out in their finest attire.

LMA CITV sponsors

0 comments

There’s still time to be a part of the La Mesa Oktoberfest

Booths and banner placements inside the beer garden at the 42nd Annual La Mesa Oktoberfest are still available. Contact Janene@popcornpressandmedia.com for more information.  Over 100,000 people are expected to attend this popular event.

 

Oktoberfest_2015_UTAd_728x90

0 comments

Was Father Junipero Serra A Friend To The Indians?

Pope Francis’ scheduled arrival in the United States to canonize the Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra this month has sparked controversy about whether Serra was a saint or was responsible for many deaths to Native Americans.

Jim Downs spent five years researching and writing about the Mission San Luis Rey to produce the book The Real World of Mission San Luis Rey.   Purchase book through this link. Downs will discuss the controversial history of Mission San Luis Rey at three events in San Diego this September.

SNL panel flyer

0 comments

Make Sure To Grab Your Spot At San Diego Writers, Ink’s Annual Fundraiser Blazing Laptops Or Support My Page

It’s going to be another great year of fundraising efforts for the San Diego Writers Ink’s Blazing Laptops event. I’ve signed up to raise funds and hope you will consider donating to a great writing center community in San Diego.  Come out to my spontaneous writing prompt session on Tuesday, May 26 at noon Details Here and just by showing up and paying the regular $5 fee you’ll be contributing to the fund.
Go to my fundraising page here Click Here To Go To Page.
2014Blazinglaptops-banner940
Here’s more information about the fun event.
The excitement is building for San Diego Writers, Ink’s (SDWI) annual fundraiser Blazing Laptops. The all day writing marathon helps support writing programs for the non-profit. Twenty-three participants have already signed up for the event on June 7, and the group has achieved 15% of its fundraising goal so far. Spots have filled in past years because of the energy of writing as part of a community and the extra events and food scheduled throughout the day. It is a day to support SDWI but the writers gain a lot too, which is evidenced by many of them returning year after year.
If you’re wondering why you should sign up or support someone who is participating, there are a lot of good reasons. For one, if you go to any of the workshops or classes the group facilitates you might overhear a comment about how this literary community is unique and not available in many other cities. Another reason might be that you finally author that novel on your life goals list or help someone fulfill his or hers. Finally, the group is a non-profit so it’s a great reason for a tax break.

SDWI has various incentives that fundraising writers can win for registering for the marathon or reaching fundraising goals. Prizes include lunch with a published author or editor (10 local authors have signed up to meet with someone who wins this incentive), copies of SDWI’s award-winning anthology, t-shirts or book bags, signed books, and entries into raffles to be drawn on the day of the event. All marathon writers also get a certificate of participation and get to enjoy the day of the marathon with free breakfast and lunch plus chair yoga, a short lunch talk, and other fun.

Many of the writers participating also offer incentives to those who donate to them. One writer has promised to sing karaoke in public with the largest donor choosing the song to be performed. Other writers do thank you notes or take writing prompt suggestions from donors. Team Ink, made up of SDWI staff, is offering a small handmade booklet featuring the lines of a sonnet to any donor of $100 or more to their fundraising page.

 

0 comments