Jennifer Beetle and the 2021 Community Challenge
Jennifer Beetle is a quiet engine of change. She gets things done in the community, leaving little trace that she was involved.
As the Pub Mania Auction fundraiser at Patrick’s Pub & Eatery grew over the years in popularity and dollars raised, Jennifer worked mostly behind the scenes, creating systems, tracking data in spreadsheets, organizing activities, finding answers, supporting people—and smiling all the while.
When it became clear in 2020 that Pub Mania could not happen in the midst of a pandemic, Jennifer did what she does best: She got beside her husband, Allan Beetle, and helped to transform the popular barstool fundraiser into something that has the capacity to involve more people and more teams and bring in more donations.
Pub Mania Team Captains Holly Ruggieri and Anna Terry, along with Pub Mania Referee Kate Flaherty and Children’s Auction Coordinator Jennifer Kelley, came together with the Beetles to form a committee. They launched the It’s for the Kids Community Challenge in April 2020 with the 31 Pub Mania teams, and the Beetles put out a call for new teams to join in the fun—and the fundraising.
“We didn’t want to not do an event,” says Allan Beetle. “We’d been raising a lot of money. A lot of people and organizations were counting on us to not just drop the ball and take the year off. We talked to our team captains and came up with a new event that they all agreed to participate in. Not quite as fun—but certainly just as important.”
Allan did the lion’s share of the outreach. Jennifer created the new systems, figured out the glitches, trained people, made sure everyone had what they needed, and oversaw everything from communications to tallying points for team activities.
In an online closing ceremony in December 2020, Allan announced to the Challenge team captains and others taking part virtually that $249,460 was raised for the Auction by a total of 47 teams—13 of them new.
“We were thrilled that we raised that much money, and I think all the team captains were thrilled,” Jennifer says. No one had any idea what we’d be able to do, but I think the expectations were pretty low. Everyone was pleased with the result. I think we’ve set a new bar for this event, and we’re hoping to beat that number by at least a dollar in 2021.”
The goals—and the challenges—in the Challenge’s first year were to engage more people and raise some level of funds at a time when people couldn’t hold events or gather. One early stumbling block was figuring out how to collect money from team members and captains. Meredith Village Savings Bank stepped up to be in charge of gathering funds and bookkeeping, making the processes even more transparent. “This was a huge thing for us,” Jennifer says.
Information and team resources for Pub Mania had been offered up largely via the Patrick’s Pub website, so Jennifer, with graphic designer Kate Lilly, owner of Lilly Designs, beefed up the Auction’s website with a new Challenge section, offering FAQs, information on how to get involved, and resources for team captains on fundraising ideas, making deposits, and competing against other teams for prizes.
Jennifer and Allan also began communicating with team captains more efficiently, using an enewsblast to disseminate key information and links.
Typical, year-round Pub Mania team fundraising activities, like comedy shows, a festival of wreaths, and pancake and Halloween parties, didn’t happen so much in 2020. But there were corn hole tournaments, pie sales, and silent and online auctions.
For the 2021 Challenge, Holly took over from Allan as committee chair with Anna serving as vice-chair, and together, Challenge teams raised $332,342. The Challenge committee remains focused on more outreach, more recruitment of new teams, and more fun, again hoping to play the “Plus $1” game as a goal for 2022.
Speaking of fun, Jennifer and Allan also led the charge for a new annual event, the “It’s for the Kids Sweepstakes Social,” which launched in fall 2021. With cash prizes and entertainment, it was a great party on a great mission!
The Sweepstakes Social raised $22,979 in its first year, and this year, the event will be held Friday, September 16.
Stay tuned! Tickets will be available for purchase in August. You won’t want to miss it!