By Melani Kliewer, Volunteer Coordinator
Fashion Passion is Rainbows’ signature fundraising event, with 600 guests, a catered dinner, live and silent auctions, a raffle, a photo booth, music by DJ Carbon, Fashion Passion cocktails, and a professional runway show. My name is Melani Kliewer and I’m the Volunteer Coordinator for Rainbows United. 2018 was my first year at Fashion Passion.
Oh…and I needed to recruit, train, and coordinate more than 100 volunteers for the event. But that is not what this story is about.
This story is about the spirit found at Rainbows’ Fashion Passion. It is about the hard work, the dedication, the generosity, and the laughter that is a part of this event that raised $445,000 in net proceeds for Rainbows United, Inc.
Planning for Fashion Passion, held the Friday before Thanksgiving, begins in January. Actually, the “thinking” behind Fashion Passion really never stops. I asked our Development Vice President, Angela Kessler, if she wakes up thinking about ideas for the event. She laughed and replied, “I never stop thinking about it. I will see a magazine layout or a picture in some catalog and say to myself, that would be wonderful for next year’s event.” One of the Friends of the Heart committee members flew to Las Vegas the day after Fashion Passion 2018 and sent a message to Angela saying she’d seen something perfect for next year’s event. This is the commitment behind Fashion Passion and Rainbows.
My favorite part of my first year at Fashion Passion was undoubtedly the laughter and the enthusiasm of everyone involved. We work long hours to put together this massive undertaking with the purpose of giving our guests a night to remember. Volunteers train for hours getting ready and work long shifts the night of the event. There is a bond, a kind of community that forms between people working hard toward the same goal. When you add in the mission behind this event, there is a sense of joy, of fulfillment, of purpose that infuses the atmosphere.
This sense of dedication, joy and generosity is not only seen in the smiles of the staff and volunteers, but is wonderful to behold in the faces of the guests who come to Fashion Passion. Yes, our guests come for the party. Yes, our guests come for the prizes and the great food. Yes, our guests come for the Fashion Show. But most importantly, our guests come to donate because they believe in the mission: To enhance the lives of children with special needs and their families by bringing together community resources and providing customized service.