The 2000's — Smith Day in the 21st Century

Smith Day, the high-tech theme of co-chairs Laurie Kramer and Judy Neiswander, took Smith Day into the 21st century, with Kathy Ollivier setting the all-time Silent Auction proceeds record that year. And co-chairs Debbie Prokopf and Maggie Vecchio-Smith introduced Smith Day to reality TV with their 2006 theme, The Real World. Several garden-themed Smith Days highlighted the pastoral peacefulness of Smith Day in the 2000s.

And after the turbulent 1990s, the current decade's Smith Days have been as calm and predictable as a multi-day volunteer fund-raising event can be. A consistent crew of experienced department heads — including, among others, the Holly Churchward and Stephanie Frost families organizing the move-in, the mother-daughter team of Mary Taylor and Robin Hartwell in Women's Clothes, Nancy Malmon and Jodi Duclos in Antiques, Shirley Mah Kooyman and Christl Larson in Household, Sarah Beck Garrett in Books, Laurie and Joel Kramer in Quiz, Grace Norris in Bakery, and Diana Simplair and Cybel Monson in Supplies, and Peggy Smith, Liz Buckingham and Stephanie Ross for lunch — made Smith Day setup and sales run smoothly. And when it was time to clear out all the unsold goods, Janet Woodhull's and daughter Holly Churchward's families, together with many volunteers from Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, swarmed in, taking the Smith Day leftovers to benefit a free store. Many loyal chairs have served for years, with some training their replacements and some still doing it!

Communications between Smith Day chairs and department heads moved online in the new century. No one seemed to have time for in-person meetings, and even the traditional wrap-up meeting started losing ground to e-mail. Besides, the department chairs knew their jobs so well that the event almost seemed to run itself. Still, the chair role was critical to providing leadership and maintaining volunteer enthusiasm.

And a series of Club Presidents found that recruiting co-chairs was increasingly difficult. Twice during this decade, Smith Day has been under serious scrutiny and its future in doubt. The first time was 2002, when President Patty Schmidt called a Smith Day Summit — drawing 20 participants — to discuss the future of the event. The next time was 2005, when the outgoing and incoming Club Presidents, Marty Heiberg and Ellen Van Iwaarden, were unable to find chairs. Marty and Ellen decided to co-chair Smith Day themselves while conducting an extensive survey of Club members to gather suggestions and ideas.

The survey responses supported keeping Smith Day going while seeking ways to make it easier to organize. Not surprisingly, as had happened in the past, Club members were willing to change some traditions to keep Smith Day and its wonderful spirit of fellowship and service alive. In response, the Executive Committee and recent Smith Day chairs have been working to make the volunteer responsibilities less time-consuming and the day more focused on fun and friendships than on raising the most money possible.

The new ideas started blossoming forth immediately. In 2006, Brigid Brindley revived the Children's Clothes Department. Ann Car and Becky McManus, co-chairs of 2007's green-themed Smithecology, substituted paid movers for volunteers on move-in day — a most welcome change for volunteers' sore backs and thankfully a financial wash due to savings on Hopkins rental fees. The 2007 event featured another innovation — allowing Smith business entrepreneurs to sell products and services at Smith Day, with a commission going to the scholarship fund. And in 2008, teaming up experienced two-time chair Shirley Mah Kooyman '73 with first-time chair Hue Alexander '98 ensures that Smith Day's Diamond Jubilee: 75 years and still a gem! will combine the best of old and new.

The following pages include a sampling of the clever invitations and flyers created for Smith Day over the past 25 years. Please enjoy them and peruse the list of co-chairs, locations, and themes. And make plans now to add your ideas and energy to ensure the future of this grand dame of fund-raising events — our beloved Smith Day.

Ellen Van Iwaarden, Marty Swain, & Laurie Kramer
September 2008

Many thanks To Paula Vesely for her work in organizing the Club's Smith Day archives.

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