Congratulations to all Smith Club members! As you’ll read in this newsletter (page 2), we held a terrific 80th birthday celebration for Smith Day last fall. Close to 100 gathered for lunch, and even more shopped our sale. Most important, we raised significant funds to support scholarships at Smith. To have such a continuously running — and successful — event is an amazing feat.
Of course this kind of undertaking doesn’t happen by chance. It occurs and succeeds only because of the dedicated volunteers who selflessly offer their time and energy. This year was no exception. Our chairwomen deserve special recognition. Peggy Leppik, Barbara Klaas, and Lisa Peilen worked “all angles” of this event and dug deep into their networks to ensure great donations and sufficient volunteers to support each department. Of course they each brought experience to the process, as they have chaired multiple Smith Days in the past! I can’t thank them and all the volunteers enough. Great work.
Smith Day has taken multiple forms over its 80 years. Once an event held in private homes, this perennial favorite has morphed over time, bending to the interests and capabilities of the club members. For most of the 25 years I’ve been involved, it has been a single-day event, held the first Saturday after Labor Day. We’ve changed up the location, moved from 2 days to 1 day, altered the departments, offered various lunch options, and added professional help with certain aspects such as moving the merchandise. I’m committed to making sure we continue to make the right kind of changes needed to keep this amazing tradition going. I’m certain we’ll make it to 100!
We solicited feedback in the form of a survey at the event this year and got great comments from 76 of you. Many respondents were regular Smith Day attendees, either alumnae or guests/family. The number one reason for attendance is “shopping,” followed closely by “seeing friends.” The Hopkins Center for the Arts got high reviews as a venue, especially because of the parking, sunlight, and supportive staff. A couple of attendees suggestd a more central location. Respondents had mixed views on timing, with a large group liking the traditional timing but many noting the difficulty of participating during the busy first week of school. This was a consistent theme in why people did not volunteer to work at Smith Day. We got a few ideas on improving the event, like “always sell the winning raffle ticket to me” and “bring back the booze.” We’ve always been a spirited group!
It’s terrific to have this interest and set of suggestions. But I’m mindful we’ve only heard from a portion of those who attended this year. We need to hear from all of you. I’ve included the same survey in this newsletter and would really appreciate receiving comments back. Please return it to me by mail (address on survey) or send a scan or ideas my way at [email removed]. We’re only as strong as our ideas!
To round out the Smith Day conversation, it is important to note that it’s not too early to think about Smith Day 2015. We’ve secured the Hopkins Center for the Arts for Saturday, September 12. Our donation depots are open for business and awaiting your items. Co-Chairs are in place, so now is the time to think about volunteering and donating. A Smith education has been so special for us. Let’s make it is possible for more young women.
I look forward to seeing many of you over the next few months. Watch for Smith Club events in our email updates. Until then, I wish you all a Happy New Year and a safe winter, perhaps with a warm escape at some point.
Paula Prahl '84