Thursday, December 4, 2014

See a need; fill it. Meet Molly.

During the Christmas season, I often make a mental note to "do something good" for others, something that will be helpful or bring joy.  What that usually translates to is plates of home baked goodies delivered to friends and neighbors.  Last year, we delivered the sweets ding-dong-ditch style, and my kids got a real kick out of it.  If I have to introduce them to charitable giving by coating it in mischief, so be it.
Anyway, I want to tell you about someone who took her desire to help others and turned it into something big and awesome.  This is my friend Molly:
She and her husband Tom have put on a board game convention the last two years, with all the proceeds going to Safe Place here in Austin.  I'm going to let her tell you more about it.

Sarah: Please tell us about Game for the Cause and how you came up with this idea.
Molly: Game for the Cause is a charity board game convention. All of the proceeds go to SafePlace which strives to end sexual and domestic violence. This year, you paid $20 at the door and then played board games all weekend. There were raffles and a silent auction which, all totaled, helped us raise just over $4,300 dollars.
I was inspired to help out women's issues after reading "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book discusses the various issues that plague women worldwide. I told my husband that I wanted to do something since I have experienced almost none of these issues first hand. He suggested I start local because there are plenty of things that can be fixed here in Austin, TX. 
Around the same time, we were debating on going to a game convention ourselves in Dallas and calculated the cost. My husband suggested that we throw our own game convention instead, with the money we would have spent and just give all the money to SafePlace. So we did that and had our first convention in October of 2013 and had our second one in October of this year.

Sarah: Tell me about the community involvement (donations of the space, games, prizes).
Molly: So many people have been very generous to our cause. We contacted local game stores, who were more than willing to donate. Tribe Comics and games, Whose Turn is it? Games are two of our recurring game store donors from here in town. We also contacted a lot of national game publishers who sent a game or two each, plus we got donations from Steve Jackson Games and Fireside Games, both local game publishers. 
These games made up the bulk of our silent auction, which brought in over $2,000 itself. This year, we actually had quite a few people donate used games, which we had a dutch auction for where the price decreased every couple hours. Individual people also donated a variety of crafts to be paired with the games that increased the value of the bundle.
I have been continually amazed at the generosity of these publishers, game store owners and individual people who help us make a successful event. The Parker Lane United Methodist church was one of the only churches in town to donate their space to us free of charge so that 100% of the money went to SafePlace. They donated their space two years in a row.

Sarah: Who attended?  What's the atmosphere like?
Molly: Around 100 members of the board game community attended. Most attendees were from Austin, with a few from out of town but close by. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun. You came in, found a group or a game and played. Game groups were being made and broken the entire weekend, so it was easy to find a game to jump in on and have fun. There were some Play-to-win events that happened, where you played a certain game and then had the opportunity to win the game at the end of the convention in a raffle.

Sarah: Do you have any plans to expand or change next year?
Molly: I would love to get more people to come out and since we have already had it for two years, word is getting out. It grew by at least 20 people from last year to this year and we raised just over $600 more. We are excited about the possibilities and are excited that our first two years have already been huge successes!

Sarah: Give us some general info about Safe Place.
Molly: SafePlace offers a variety of relief for those affected by sexual or domestic violence. that website in particular highlights some resources provided by SafePlace. A lot of the relief is available because of volunteer work. SafePlace strives to educate the community about these issues knowing that is the only way this type of violence will end.

Thanks for letting me interview you, Molly!  I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling inspired after reading about the work you are doing.
Ok, people, if you like games and want to support this worthy cause, 1.) consider making a donation to SafePlace, and 2.) mark your calendars for next October.  I'm going to see if we can get a table set up with the Cones of Dunshire.