Since it's inception 30 years ago, local non-profit Chatham-Savannah Citizen
Advocacy, has celebrated each anniversary with a covered dish supper. These
gatherings--aside from being a great time--serve as an example of how our
community is at its best when we welcome and include people of all
backgrounds, particularly people with disabilities.
For many years, attendance at the Annual Covered Dish Supper has hung at
about 125 to 150. But this year Executive Director Tom Kohler and his team
booked the Hellenic Center with a seating capacity of 300.
He knew the party could turn out to be a tremendous showing of community
strength, but the usual number of attendees would be disappointing; a
half-empty gymnasium would be on display for its most important long-time
Bring Your Posse
When we sat down to discuss the primary focus for this invitation, Tom
Kohler expressed it in three simple words: "Bring your posse."
Except that we weren't allowed to use the word, _posse_. In fact, everything
about this invitation needed to reflect the dignity that CSCA advocates for
its constituents. And coming from a grass roots organization, it was not
allowed to look expensive and, most importantly, it needed to work.
The "bring your posse" notion inspired Creative Director Ariel Janzen to
apply the viral, forward-to-a-friend theme common in email marketing. Each
invitation came with three attached panels that can be torn off and sent as
postcards, conveying all of the party details.
The resulting 24-inch-long invitation format lent itself to an arresting
display of people from all walks of life in a procession bearing covered
dishes, flowers and balloons.
While it's difficult to say just how big an effect the invitation had on the
celebration's attendance, over 350 people attended the celebration-- 200
more than any prior year--and extra tables were carried in to accommodate
the overflow crowd.
According to Ashley O'Brien, Savannah Citizen Advocacy's office manager,
_"There is no question that many of the tear-offs were mailed or given out
with a personal note. . . And Missy Scordino, Citizen Advocacy coordinator
in the Gainesville area, said it was the best invitation she'd ever
received. She even requested extra copies for her board."