This week's #FeatureFriday highlights Far Hills Event Coordinator Eileen Gross, a team member in the Engagement and Philanthropy Department. This month, she and her team have been delivering random acts of kindness through their Flock-A-Friend Fundraiser and truly embracing our kindness pillar. This has allowed our community to send hot pink flamingo flocks to another family's yard, the school, or a FH classroom. Not only has this been a successful fundraising opportunity, but our community is loving the fun and random surprise of the flocks' arrival. The Engagement and Philanthropy team works hard to create outside-the-box opportunities for our community to be together or form a united front when we can't gather together in-person. One of their goals is to keep the strength of the community thriving and keep things unique, fresh, and fun for all students and families to participate in.
Eileen started at Far Hills in 1996-1997, where she was a Preschool Assistant in the Children's House in PreK Olders. Fast forward almost twenty years later to 2017, when her family moved back to NJ from MA, she then worked for Brian Junger in the EDP. Additionally, Eileen also became a long-term substitute in the Preschool Studio, covering a maternity leave. Before joining the Engagement & Philanthropy Department, she was the Main Office Assistant. When asked about the transition to Event Coordinator, Eileen says, "having roles with direct interaction with both the students and parents have made this transition to Events Coordinator easy. My husband, Dale, and children, Connor and Paige, have even helped out at last winter's Hills are Alive. FH has many extended community members!"
Q&A with Eileen:
Describe the feedback you have received for the events planned in the last year.
- Our community has been so supportive of all our crazy, out-of-the-park (no pun intended here) ideas. We, the entire FH community (students, families, faculty, and staff), love to come together. This year, we're hoping to create new experiences to achieve that while still being safe. I've been so overwhelmed by our community during the Flock-A-Friend event. Our pillar of kindness has never been more present! So many "veteran" families have reached out to ensure all our new families "get flocked" and feel included. Our community is empathetic and compassionate as they know our new families haven't experienced a traditional year of events. It's our goal to make this year's experiences unique while still maintaining community connectivity. As we move forward to spring, we don't know what the end-of-year activities will look like, but just like last year, we're always looking at fun and appropriate ways to celebrate accomplishments. Our wheels are continually spinning, and Mrs. Zaiser always laughs when the Engagement & Philanthropy Office comes to her saying, "We've got an idea…"
What new events did you create/plan in the last year?
- My first event was our Hills Are Alive featuring The Nerds. That occurred almost a year ago to date, just before the world stopped. Looking back, the timing of this event was perfect, and we weren't even aware at the time. I'm so glad we could have this large event to allow us to be together one last time before quarantine. Throughout this last year and specifically during quarantine, the Engagement and Philanthropy team had to put our creative hats on to bring our community together while apart. Other events I've helped spearhead: Zoomin' & Groovin' with Mr. Junger, #FalconStrong deliveries to all families, End of Year Car Parade, Graduation at the Ballpark, Golf Classic 2020, Grade Level Breakfasts, an Incredible Drive-In Movie, our first online Book Fair, WinterFest 2020, and now our Flock-A-Friend fundraiser.
What are the benefits, and why is it important to come together as a community?
- School is not only for academics. There is a social factor for both children, adults, and faculty/staff). People of all ages want to interact, and this past year we've tried our hardest to bring that social aspect and sense of "togetherness" to our FH community. We want to see the smiles behind the mask; our eyes say a lot! Nothing compares to seeing the excitement from our students and families, especially over this last year. We love the notion of random acts of kindness. Especially given the current landscape, a fun, thoughtful surprise can make the day for others. Over the summer, I delivered #FalconStrong care packages to all of our families. This exemplified our appreciation in our community and the strength we all have together. This month we created a new fundraiser opportunity called Flock-A-Friend. Flamingos have been flying into our classrooms and landing in yards all over town. The best part? Their arrival is a surprise, and no one knows when they will appear. Our school spirit has never been stronger, and I'm so happy to have a little part in it. For future events, the Parents' Committee and Class Parents have grade-level zoom happy hours in the works, and I am assisting in coordination.
How do you measure the success of an event in your own opinion?
- True success comes when I see the smiles on the children's and families' faces. I'll quote a preschooler from after our Drive-In Movie event, "It was the best day of my life." We're seeing participation from so many families this year which is terrific. The best measure of success is hearing about it from students and parents months later. It shows that we're making a positive impact.
It's not too late to surprise your family, a fellow FH family, a teacher, or the school by sending a flock of hot pink flamingos to brighten their day.
Sign up here: https://www.fhcds.org/cf_forms/view.cfm?formID=468