Thursday, March 8, 2012

Designing Women: Amy From Operation Shower

If you're a long-time reader of MBB, you know that I started this blog back in the day with one of my best friends Amy, who is a HEEEEE-larious, gorgeous, sarcastic, hilarious, smart, and hilarious chick, with perfect hair, no less. You also know that, over time Ames was able to follow her passion - i.e., volunteering, and is now working full-time for an incredible organization, Operation Shower, that throws baby showers for military wives whose spouses have deployed. Amazing. Unfortch for us at MBB, howevs, it means she sadly has little time left to blog.

Sheesh - way to set your priorities - volunteering for military families over writing about the trivial, inane and asinine? PACE YOURSELF - you're making the rest of us look bad.I'm kidding, of course. Anyhoozle, fresh off of two recent showers in San Diego and L.A., Amy took some time to answer some questions for me and 'splain herself.
How did you find Operation Shower?
I like to think Operation Shower found me. Much like food "finds" its way to my mouth. I had just started a side-business of planning small events and had a blog (Shan here - Stem Parties - which is now defunct, or defunked, as the case may be. Still, if you want to see some UH-MAZ-ING parties - including my own triplet shower - ch-ch-check it owwwt). LeAnn, founder of Operation Shower, found my blog and reached out to help do a fundraiser in the Fall of 2008. I just kind of never left and that turned into my role as Chief Event Planner. Lesson here: Be Leechy.
Give me a bit of background/P.R. about OS.
Operation Shower started in March 2007 as a simple project, when founder LeAnn Morrissey, was looking for a way to give back to her uncle who was deployed overseas. LeAnn asked her uncle what she could do and he replied that many people send items to the soldiers but what she could do was send a card to four women who were expecting babies while their spouses were deployed. That sparked an idea, so LeAnn got family and friends together to send a “shower in a box” to each mom. After the reception those first boxes got, she knew she was onto something that really made a difference to these women and to their husbands. She teamed up with a friend and held the very first unit-wide shower at Ft. Bragg, NC in June 2007. Since then, we have showered more than 600 women on military bases and other locations for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard.

HOLLA!


Do you have a favorite shower that you have done?
We ask ourselves this after every one.... "Is that your favorite now?"  And then that turns into a 10 minute discussion about favorite parts of every shower.

So, here are a few of my favorites: Raindrops on roses..oh wait. Okay - When Michelle Obama, Jill Biden and Martha Stewart came to our shower at Camp LeJeune (thud..surreal), 12 of my party blogger/designer girlfriends doing a table design event for San Diego 2012 (a-mazing), the feeling in the room in Groton, CT (hard to explain..had to be there), the L.A shower we just had (see below), our first shower with the PGA TOUR when they gave us $15,000 (we had about $500 in the bank at the time!), but, most of all, every single mom I get to talk to, to hug, to thank in person and laugh and cry with at each shower. That is my fave.



How have the events evolved since you started with OS?
LeAnn was doing it all (we're still out of her basement in her house!) so by joining her, we've been able to divide and conquer a bit. My love of event planning and connections to some amazing designers all over the country, along with partnerships we are making with companies donating product have really elevated it to another level. We throw a full-on, high-end baby shower every time. It's kind of the coolest job in the world. (I'd be willing to take a spin at chocolate taster or personal shopper though.)

Dish - tell us about some of the celebs you have met.
That's been a totally unexpected bonus!  The First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, Martha Stewart and the adorable Sarah Michelle Gellar just emceed our L.A. event.
 
So far, just a few, but hopefully more and more as we grow. Not so I can fill up my autograph book (did anyone have one as a kid? Mine had a couple of local news anchors - what? They are totally famous when you are 9. And then, the coup de gras...Scott Baio. Word to your Chachi). (Shan here again - my autograph book had Marlin Perkins from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, and Snow White - talk about DIVA). Moreso as their involvement brings attention to our cause. In spite of attention we've received and wonderful relationships, we're still very, very small and always in need of funding and product.



What do you have in the pipeline for 2012?
Dude. A lot. In addition to trying to plan a large fundraiser for the Fall sometime in either CA or TX, we have May in Florida, June in Connecticut, July in Illinois, August in New York and are looking at securing 2 more showers for the Fall. Helloooo frequent flier miles. Now...when will I have time to use them? So...see you at Christmas, Shans. : (
(Shan here - I AM NOT HEARING THAT, AMY EUGENIA...)



Anything else you want to tell us?
Can I tell you my favorite shower story? Yes? Goods. Kaniya, a mom-to-be of twins, was in attendance with her mother. Not only was Kaniya’s husband deployed while she was pregnant with their twins, her father is also active duty and her parents were soon to be stationed in Germany. At one point in the shower, her tablemate’s mother came up to us and asked, “Have you met Kaniya?...Do you know her parents are about to move, too, and she doesn’t have any other family here?..Don’t worry about her. We’re going to take care of her now.”  AND, CUE THE KLEENEX. I've yet to retell that story without needing a moment to collect myself before the ending. I can't with that story.
How can people get involved or donate to OS? 
There are many ways to help! As a non-profit, our biggest need is financial support. We have on-line donation through Paypal and Google Checkout on our website (www.operationshower.org) and also gladly accept checks to the address on our site.

We’ve got an Amazon Wish List where anyone can purchase items and have them sent directly to us to be included in our Showers In A Box. This has been a great new way for people to help without having to head to the post office! Lately, we’ve had some wonderful groups of people around the country get together and host events in their home for Operation Shower. The Wish List is a good way to see what we are most in need of at this time. Simply host a party and have every guest brings donations. Super fun, right?

Thanks, Shan. And thanks to anyone still reading this! I could go on for days about this topic as I've seen first-hand the difference it makes in the lives of these families. Somebody shut me up.

Thank YOU, Ames, for everything you do. You know I love ya like tuna noodle casserole, and that's a LOT. Mwah!!

Merci,
Shan

2 comments:

Peetzi Jen said...

Great post, girls!!

I have the utmost respect and love for people in the military. My cousin just got back from her 4th year-long deployment...two of them in the last 3 years. Now take into account that her youngest daughter is only 3 years old and I start to cry every time I think about it. I could never, ever do it and remain as strong as she has.

It's a hard life for our soldiers and their families. Operation Shower is a beautiful thing!

XOXO!

Jenny @ Spry On The Wall said...

Wowza! Great work you are doing Amy! My BFF's hubby did a tour in Afghanistan a little over a year ago and she was holding down the fort with three little ones. And my niece just became a Marine. So thank you Amy for all the work you all do! Kudos!