Ten years ago, I helped plan my wedding. This was the biggest party I had ever put together, but I had tons of help – from my mom to make dresses, from friends and family to provide entertainment during the ceremony and reception as well as showers, parties, and dinners beforehand, and of course from local vendors like our caterer who was accustomed to cooking for a crowd. Back then, I bought Wedding Planning for Dummies and worked hard, sometimes with limited resources, to do as much as I could myself, without having everything look too homemade. The development of computerized resources and accessibility of Internet Shopping and communication made such an event easier to do that it would have been just five years before.
Over the last ten years, the availability of digital and real do-it-yourself resources has multiplied, such that putting together huge events is even more attainable and economical, and the results are even more attractive and professional.
In 2006, I began Stroller Hikes with a regular e-mail message to friends from my Blossom Birth prenatal yoga and mom-and-me yoga classes, when people wanted to get out and about with baby, but didn’t know where they could go or what to expect, and didn’t want to do it alone. (Photo above of one of our first hikes. Thanks to Julianne Rice especially for encouraging this! She still teaches yoga and serves on our board.) In October, Stroller Hikes had a website (www.strollerhikes.com) with two dozen hike pages and a cute orange and blue logo made by my husband of my redhead Max riding in a stroller. In 2007, the power of the Internet was realized when I started to realize that some of my closest buddies I knew through Stroller Hikes. If I posted a message or event, people came – wonderful people with common outlooks and a similar mission. In 2008, Stroller Hikes was an official 501-c-3 nonprofit with a mission statement, board consisting of a lot of those friends, and partnerships with community organizations like Santa Clara County Parks and Sports Basement, and a charming new logo thanks to a competition across several Monta Vista High School digital arts classes. In 2009, Stroller Hikes events expanded to include Toddler Treks, we provided digital technology internships for high school students (this year’s interns at left), and our flexibility and ease of putting together our annual family camping trip improved immensely with the donated space provided by the Letona and Bravo Families at the Bravo Ranch in Soquel (our wonderful annual space). In 2010, Stroller Hikes was financially in the black, having more contributions from the community including two grants from Allied Assurance and Whole Foods. In 2011, Stroller Hikes’ staffing (all volunteer) swelled to include two digital technology professionals, Jenn helped Stroller Hikes provide its first large-scale Fun Walk, we offered a Backpacking series for preschoolers (and younger, it turned out), and Stroller Hikes included a very fancy Burns Night as a major fundraiser.
Stroller Hikes has provided a unique opportunity for myself and many Stroller Hikes volunteers to learn how to plan, organize, market, and execute events, as well as how to manage others, apply new technology, solicit for donations, and work with a wide range of community partners. Though it often is a lot of work, I appreciate the opportunity to stretch myself, growing personally, as I contribute to a growing organization whose audience and influence grows daily.
We are planning for 200 people to attend the Stroller Hikes 5th Birthday Party Saturday. Over 100 have registered through www.Eventbrite.com for this free event. Amy and Jenn have busily been planning, posting and passing out fliers, soliciting donations, and shopping for snacks and craft supplies. Melissa got the event promoted through two radio stations, and several of you have promoted us through your moms groups and clubs. I’ve printed posters and donor thank you cards, ironed newly printed Stroller Hikes Ts, and sent out reminders to our registrants. I’m borrowing a friend’s van tomorrow, so there is ample room for all of the supplies amassed.
The Stroller Hikes 5th Birthday Party is Saturday, September 10th beginning at 6 PM in Vasona Park at the Meadowbrook and Creekside Group Areas (behind the mini train depot). Santa Clara County Parks has given us free space, Costco and Safeway have donated food, and REI, Full Circle Farm, Ergo, Sunday Afternoons, Blossom Birth, Sports Basement, Yoga Is Youthfulness, Pirate’s Booty, Beauty Bloc, and the Jankowski Family have donated prizes for our raffle. The Moonlit Hike at 7:30 PM is still pending (poster below assumes it’s not happening), so be sure you make it out between 6 and 7 PM to enjoy the other events at this party! In case you needed convincing…
Top Ten Reasons to Attend the FREE Stroller Hikes Birthday Party
1. Celebrate and show your support for a 5-year-old free resource for Bay Area families.
2. Roast a marshmallow and make a s’more.
3. Connect with friends old and new.
4. Sign the biggest birthday card you have ever seen.
5. Capture some great photo ops while you practice at the Stroller Hikes obstacle course, then race your kids.
6. Get crafty! Make a pine cone bird feeder, a leaf rubbing crown, and decorate a birthday cookie.
7. Test your olfactory IQ with smell cups of natural products.
8. Try your luck! Raffle prizes drawn at 7:15 PM. Win anything from T-shirts to water bottles to technical backpacks to Ergo pouches to binoculars to sun hats to gift cards, and more… Eventbrite.com registrants get free raffle tickets. (Tickets are $1 each at the party.)
9. Hike in a mile or less from your free parking spot for a little exercise, then relax while kids run, play, and snack in a safe, spacious, beautiful Los Gatos park. Hike out later with a free glow necklace and enjoy the amazing power of light-producing chemistry!
10. Spend good quality time with your family at a FREE family-friendly event that won’t flex bedtime too much.
If that isn’t convincing, consider using the party as a carrot to dangle to get your kids to eat their veggies, clean their rooms, and behave. Or if your spouse needs convincing, remind him/her that there are tons of prizes including technical backpacks, awesome sun hats, a basket of Full Circle Farms produce, gift cards for Sports Basement and Beauty Bloc, free yoga passes, and more… and we’ll have plenty of snacks including free Pirate’s Booty for everyone. And if you need convincing, think about celebrating the construction of something from scratch and its maintenance as a resource for all to enjoy for free.
-Debbie and the Birthday Planning Committee (Jenn and Amy) and eager Max and Holly (did someone say marshmallows?)
p.s. Yes, there is more than double meaning for this week’s title, “Top Ten.” Kudos to my husband, Andrew, for making the last ten years tops…