The Cardwell Report

Happy days and helpful ways shared straight from the CYCA office

by Maggie Cardwell

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Often I am asked, “So what do you all do?” It is hard to know where to begin to explain all that is done at the CYCA office. I am in the office at 2298 Young Avenue where you can stop by and ask questions. I answer your phone calls, letters, and emails. I may not always have the answer you want, but I can usually point you in the direction of someone who can. I am here for our members, and I help our volunteer board of directors and committee members organize meetings and events like the Art for Art’s Sake Auction, Friday Festival 4-Miler, and alley clean-ups. Below are some of the things keeping us busy. Each issue, I will try and tell you a little more about what we do and hopefully you will find a way to join in on the fun.

Holiday Party and snack bags

A lot were unable to make the CYCA Christmas party due to the weather, and we are sorry you had to miss it. I would like to thank Whitney Jo for making the Playhouse on the Square available to us and Joe Beasley, along with his staff, for making it a wonderful holiday experience. Playhouse on the Square has long been a community advocate and continues to offer to us the rare gift of exceptional entertainment at our doorstep.

The old year does not end for me until the last goody police and firefighter bag is filled on Christmas Eve. Our volunteers have been doing it so long, they do not remember when this tradition began. We all marvel at the shopping, baking, packaging, and thought put into preparing 70 of anything. Thank you, Eclectic Eye, for providing the bags to fill again this year.

One of my 6-year-old grandsons came with me to help that evening. He lives in a very small town in Virginia with one police car and a volunteer fire department. He hears the trains, planes, and sirens in Memphis that we all ignore. He was so pleased with himself when we got home that evening that he had help to do this marvelous thing. Thanks to you all for giving him (and me) this experience. I truly appreciate the warmth in which he was received. We all then began Christmas with a “Merry Christmas toast” and helped Santa and the Mrs. (Terry and Cynthia Lawrence who make the late night delivery) fill their sleigh in their bobbing red Christmas hats. There are always lots of laughter and hugs.

Membership

First, I would like to apologize to the Dodds family for not listing you in the 2009 membership in December’s issue of the LampLighter. If I left off anyone else, I apologize, as well. I have to collect the data from one file, transfer it to Excel, and transfer it again to Word for publication in the LampLighter. Then there is the “get ‘er done” factor. I never mind being corrected, so let me know when there is a problem, and I will do my best to change it. All membership participation is cherished.

We hit the ground running in January. Once again, the office filled with volunteers, your neighbors, who gave up their Sunday morning to get the membership message out to you. Once you join, there is the data entry, coping, sorting, personal embossing, and mailing of each membership card. All of our events are important to us as a collective, but this one makes us stand out in the crowd. This is where we take ownership of our community. Good, bad, or indifferent, we become responsible for and to one another. We raise our own funds. Our voice is stronger in the political arena because we are self-supporting.

We are truly grateful to the creative collaboration of the membership committee. They worked for months (in their spare time after working all day) to make our membership the most desirable community membership in the city. How do they do it? I think with a passion to excel and a desire to make life better for each of you.

Art Auction

This is also the time of year that we prepare the mailer for the Art for Art’s Sake Auction. Over 200 letters of invitation to participate in the auction will go out to local businesses, to give them an opportunity to add their product or service. Efforts to put the auction together begin in September. As I drink my coffee in the morning, I reflect upon the hundreds of hours volunteered to make this event such a success. It begins with our local artists that spend hours creating a special work they donate to benefit your community. The physical and mental labor of volunteers is too tedious to recount. I am usually tired of it by the time auction day arrives, until the silent auction begins and the challenge is on to get the piece I have coveted for months. If you have attended an auction, you know what I mean; if you have not, you are missing some unique entertainment. More about the expanded mission of the Art for Art’s Sake Auction will be published as we near the event to take place this year on Saturday, April 10th.

Communications

We do not have a LampLighter in January because of the holidays. Be a positive voice in your community and write to the LampLighter. Page 2 lists the contact information. To me, it is awesome to think about the fact that our community owns a newspaper that has been in publication for 20 years and that your neighbors deliver it to your front door step free of charge.

Other neighborhood volunteers have been working for the past year to make improvements to your community website. Take five minutes to get familiar with it, and enjoy what it has to offer. Take another 2 seconds to take the poll they have worked so hard to create so that you can have yet another channel of expression. There will be a new question posted each month.

Believe it or not, your community association received a lot more praise in 2009 than criticism. I personally would like to thank all of you that have taken the time to call, write, or come by the office to convey your appreciation and offer your assistance. We received one unsigned letter of criticism and six very critical no-name phone messages last year. How nice of your community to pay for a place where you can send a letter, a person to receive and read it, and pay for a phone answering service for you to vent on. If you feel we need to address an issue, you need to let us know who you are.

Help from our friends

I cannot quite leave 2009 or begin 2010 without thanking Sutton Mora-Hayes, the executive director of The Cooper-Young Development Corporation for helping the Community Association with the many political and developmental hurtles that are presented to us. Her work continues as she searches for new and better resources to bring to our community. I would also like to thank Tamara Walker, executive director of The Cooper-Young Community Business Association for her commitment to the positive development of our business district and her creative thinking through the First Thursday Night Outs that we all enjoy and of course for her work on the Festival.

Planning ahead

January is the month for the CYCA Board retreat. Most of us who have worked for incorporated businesses view this as a trip to Vegas on the company dime. For the CYCA Board, it is a retreat from the front line of action. Once again, your volunteer board (neighbors) gives up a weekend to reevaluate what was good in the past year, what was not, and the best way to move forward. Words of encouragement are always welcome.

In Closing

If you were one of the many that I talked to, who really want to be more involved but cannot find the time, we hope that this new year will present to you the opportunities you desire.

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