Wherever you turn, you can find someone who needs you. Even if it is a little thing, do something for which there is no pay but the privilege of doing it. Remember, you don’t live in a world all of your own.
– Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian theologian, philosopher, physician, musician, and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize
This past Saturday was Jacob’s middle school’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the annual Celebrate Portola dinner and auction, featuring the Portola Jazz Band. I was out-of-town on business last year, so I was happy to be able to participate this time around. Our middle school is not the typical three years; it only has seventh and eighth grades. To boot, the kids are in portables for the second year in a row. The school buildings, which were found to be on an active slide, were razed last year. It took far longer than it should have taken because of political issues to find a new site, which contributed to the school’s languishing reputation.
Things, however, have been changing for the good. The new school site, which is under construction at a closed elementary school, won’t be open for another two years, but it’s a state-of-the-art facility. More families are deciding to stay as opposed to sending their middle-school age kids elsewhere. We have an engaged principal and despite some rockiness last year, Jacob is having a great eighth grade year, much of it due to having some outstanding teachers.
I’m a big believer in public education, in fixing what needs to be fixed and doing as much as we can do in our role as parents. So this small renaissance has been welcomed. Last year we contributed a weekly summer bouquet of flowers that lasted about 10 to 12 weeks. This year we made the same contribution. A request went around for parents to sign up for a monthly dessert, and I signed up to make and deliver a sherry wine cake (a favorite recipe from my college friend, Susie) as the first offering to the winning bidder in March. We also contributed, during the live portion of the auction, to the school’s purchase of a laminator and the band director’s purchase of a timpani drum.
The dinner was the best I’ve ever had in terms of being mass-produced – it certainly surpassed many a wedding meal – but also stood on its own merit. The salad and especially the green beans were crisp and the pasta al dente. But the lemon pepper chicken was tender and pulled easily off the bone. The masterminds behind the dinner were two dads, one a chef for Williams Sonoma and the other owner of the Arlington Café and Catering (269 The Arlington Avenue, Kensington, CA 94707, 510.525.3900). The music, offered up by the Portola Jazz Band for two sets, was top notch.
We came away with four tickets to a Sacramento River Cats baseball game. The River Cats are the Triple-A team for the Oakland A’s. We also won two passes to the Asian Art Museum (200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, 415.581.3500) and a case of wine, our standard auction item that we bid on. I enjoy auctions, but mostly I enjoy being part of a community to raise funds for our kids’ schools. It was a great evening and quite a successful fundraiser. Hats off to all the parents who worked so hard to put this event on. And to everyone who came out. If we all supported our kids and our local schools, imagine how much stronger our community could be.