On April 12th we had the 3rd SQL Saturday hosted in Colorado Springs, Co. The event meet and exceeded all of our goals, our goals may not line up with some of the other SQL Server Saturday traditional goals you may have heard of. We share similar goals of reaching the community and providing quality SQL Server based education for little or no cost. However, we get a bit more specific. We want to magnify the importance of networking within the community and this year in particular, we were hoping if the attendees were presented with an opportunity to give back to the community they would respond. The SQL Saturday Attendees responded with a statement that even exceeded the wildest imagination of the organizers.
The Food Drive
When touring potential facilities we found that our number one choice had a food bank that shared space in the facility. We saw this as an opportunity for the SQL Server Community to give back to the community that was hosting this event. The plan was to ask speakers, attendees and sponsors to donate food items for the food bank. We had two sponsors that offered us two SWAG gifts that were so above and beyond anything we had hoped for. Xtivia was fast to react and donated an Autographed AC-DC guitar, Dell was also quick to respond with a new Dell tablet. We had a Valorem Consulting that was not sponsors donate a gift card we well. We even had support from SQL Server Users Groups in neighboring cities show support with donations. We even had people ship us food to donate because they could not be at the event.
End Result? Early and conservative numbers shared with me from the Westside Cares food pantry show over 1000 pounds of food donated. That is a hard number to get a hold of, so we have attempted to put this into easier to understand numbers.
There was so much food, it will be spread across four food banks in Colorado Springs.
This is an average of 5 pounds of food per attendee.
The weight is equivalent to 4,000 quarter pound cheese burgers.
I hope to post a blog in the near future about the Food Drive specifically. I think if we as organizers give the attendees an opportunity to give back into the communities that we live and work that we can make great events even better. I just don’t think there is enough that I can say about how well this went.
What happened to the Guitar?
Remember our goal was to help show attendees the importance of networking? We had an attendee who works at a local office supply store. She is close to 22 years old and is working at the same time attending a local college to get a degree in either database technology or networking technology. This young lady showed one of our attendees a level of customer service that ended with an invite to the SQL Saturday. She came to the event looking to network with others who work with SQL Server and learn about the certification tests. This young lady was the winner of the Guitar. My personal hope is that she received a lot more than just a guitar; I hope she left with connections that can help her all the way thought her career, from learning about SQL Server to getting her first Full Time DBA job to retirement.
Who do we need to thank?
Attendees – What an outstanding response to the food drive.
Speakers – Most of the speakers travel to these events all around the world at their cost. They don’t get reimbursed or sponsored for these trips. They simply want to give back to the community and improve their speaking skills.
Sponsors – The end result is that the events cost a lot of money to put on. There are adjustments that we can make if we don’t have a good budget but the support from our sponsors help pay for: the facility, lunch, giveaways, cleanup, projectors, coffee, afternoon snacks and so many other costs. Without the sponsors this event just would not have been the same.
PASS – One of the reasons we can have an event like this is the support we receive from PASS. Not only do they provide us with a website, but countless management tools that removes some of the tasks that each SQL Saturday has to do. This year we were lucky to have PASS’s Karla Landrum and her husband come out to help us. They were a huge part in the success of our event.
What we did well.
The food drive – I am sure there are things that we could have done differently to make the food drive better, but honestly I just don’t think there is any argument that 1000 pounds of food is anything but an awesome response.
Speaker Dinner – Our SQL Saturday had been fortunate enough to have a Data Realized as a top sponsor; they have been with us for all of the SQL Saturdays that Colorado Springs has hosted. What they contribute to the event cannot be thanked enough. This year not only did they provide backpacks for each attendee, but they also wanted to host the speaker dinner. When we were talking about what to do for the speaker dinner we wanted to make sure that our speakers had an evening that gave everyone there exposure to our local area. Data Realized wanted to make sure it was nice, and showed that we really do appreciate all the speakers do for us.
We ended up at a local restaurant and theater called the Iron Springs Chateau. The facility did a great job hosting us. The 50 year old restaurant was a great choice for a venue and the melodrama we saw was a lot of fun for everyone.
Our Venue – Our event was at a 100 year old facility that started life and an elementary school. For the cost of the facility in comparison to what we received in addition to the staff that was happy to help us
Set up and tear down – I cannot say enough about all the volunteers. We had 2 hours to set up before we had to head over to the speaker dinner and the facility was closing for the night. There were a number of very strategic items that had to occur at this time, and we were worried that not everything would be completed in time. I was shocked when we were doing setting up an hour early. If you are looking into hosting a SQL Saturday, I cannot urge you enough to work closely with all the volunteers.