By Samantha SLAYBACK
Members of the Sunland-Tujunga Community Marketing Initiative got more than they bargained for on a recent Sunday at their first flapjack fundraiser. The event took place at McGroarty’s Art Center, nestled behind a small park in the hills of Tujunga, from 7 a.m. to noon. The money guests spent to indulge in a hearty breakfast went to pay for the Marketing Initiative’s plan to post banners around town that will acknowledge local businesses and raise awareness about the cities.
The breakfast included pancakes, sausages, coffee, juice, and water for guests to fill up on while talking with old friends, meeting new friends and learning about the STCMI’s plan. The event also offered merchandise for sale and a raffle.
“We had a raffle basket with two mugs, our new apron featuring the color logo, and Starbucks donated a pound of their coffee,” said Sunland- Tujunga brand ambassador Paolina Milana. “Mark Schwartz won it – he’s giving it to his 13-year-old daughter for her birthday.”
Though not many people were expected at the breakfast, Milana was pleasantly surprised at the strong turnout.
“Given this was our first venture, we anticipated we’d get maybe 50 or 60 people,” said Milana. But by the end of the morning, it was estimated that 150 guests took part in the inaugural event. “No wonder I kept having to run back and forth to the grocery store for more this and that!”
In pancake sales, the fundraiser earned $750. As earmarked, $125 of those funds went to repay McGroarty Arts Center for opening its doors to the Community Marketing Initiatives event. Then $500 was set aside for the Marketing Initiative to order banners that will advertise McGroarty Arts Center and Back Door Bakery, a favorite local establishment that burned down on Mothers Day this year. The remaining $125 was donated to McGroarty, which is planning to establish a mini scholarship in the name of the STCMI.
Those funds don’t include $269 that was raised from the rest of the sales and the raffle, or $90 generated on the youcaring.com fundraising site. Also, because all of the food and supplies were generously donated, any remaining funds can be dedicated to future Marketing Initiative endeavors. Joselito’s even lent the team its pancake dispenser for the event.
Not only did the Marketing Initiative meet its goal, it surpassed it.
“The event was over-the-top successful,” said marketing team member Jon von Gunten. “The cooks never stopped cooking, Paolina made two mid-event runs for extra food and supplies, and I didn’t stop ferrying hotcakes, coffee, juice, and sausages from kitchen to serving tables!”
One of the highlights of the morning was the promise by Back Door Bakery owner Deb Rosen Goodale to reveal plans for the future of the bakery.
“The minute we opened up, we had two police officers in line,” said Milana. “They so missed grabbing their breakfast-to-go from Deb and the Back Door Bakery [and wanted to know what was going to happen with the bakery].”
The news everyone had been anxiously waiting for was good news indeed: the Back Door Bakery will be returning to the Sunland-Tujunga area. Goodale estimates that it will be up and running by April 2015.
With their first large venture behind them, STCMI members are already planning their next endeavor: printing out coupons for test drives at Bob Smith Toyota. For each 2015 vehicle that is test driven during the L.A. Auto Show (Nov. 21-30), the dealer will be donating $20 to continue marketing efforts for Sunland-Tujunga. Of the money earned, STCMI will donate half to the Verdugo Hills High School Alumni Fund for Excellence to “help further teaching excellence at our schools.”
The STCMI team is grateful for all of the help and donations.
“It was more hot, hard work than I expected,” said von Gunten, “but it’s a great feeling to work with a willing and capable team where all members are sprinting the flag forward.”