The Lookout Mountain School PTA’s “Night Out for Lookout” fundraiser, held on Friday, March 1, was a wild success. Headed by Jessica Youngblood and co-chair Kristen Miller, the evening raised more money for Lookout Mountain School, over $90,000, than any prior auction. Next year’s 10th anniversary auction will have some big shoes to fill.
I asked Jessica about her experience organizing the event, and I spoke to Rob Huffaker, who bravely agreed to auctioneer after many years of the charismatic Henry Glascock leading the charge. Rob really understood the heft of the expectations riding on his shoulders. Asked whether he was nervous prior to the big evening, he replied, “I was enthused about being the auctioneer and so wanted to do a good job for the ladies of the PTA who work hard to raise almost $400,000 overall each year for our wonderful mountain treasure, LMS. As I learned how important this event is to the PTA and that the money is used to provide nine of the 17 teaching positions in one of the best Tennessee public elementary schools, I desperately wanted to do a good job and asked lots of people to pray. As I stood between the two groups of generous givers (those who gave the items auctioned and those who bought them), I was so blessed to be in that number. What a great group of generous people who love our school, community, and each other! I was proud to be a part of Jessica Youngblood’s team, and I had a blast. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of such a special evening.”
Thank you, Rob, for boldly taking on such an important role, and executing it so masterfully. You were a natural, and your daughter, the lovely Kakhi Huffaker Wakefield, beautifully outfitted the Lookout Mountain Club’s ballroom in Lenten roses and daffodils.
Despite recovering from a marathon month preparing for the auction, Jessica Youngblood, chairman of NOFL this year, was able to answer a few of my questions about how she and Kristin pulled it all off:
Anna Lee: NOFL is the biggest single fundraiser that the PTA puts on, and there’s a lot riding on it because the funds go to support teachers’ salaries and special projects, like the now-completed playground. After all your efforts to organize it, line up the auction items, catering, decor, and to get the word out, were you anxious the night of or did you have a sense that things would go off without a hitch?
Jessica: The auction always tends to come together at the end. I had a sense of peace about the whole thing and trusted our community would turn out in support of our sweet school … and they did!
Anna Lee: Yes! There was an excellent turnout, and everyone had a ball! What was your favorite part of the process?
Jessica: I enjoyed working alongside other parents. We all take away so much from the school, so it’s nice to see so many come together for this fundraiser.
Anna Lee: What was your favorite moment of the night?
Jessica: I loved the live auction. The energy was great and Rob Huffaker did such a great job engaging everyone!
Anna Lee: He certainly did - Nobody would have guessed he was a first-timer! What is the big goal that the PTA is working towards? In the past, it was the playground. How much money is needed and did you make enough?
Jessica: The special project this year was working towards a much needed renovation for our auditorium. As of now, we are a little less than halfway towards our budget. New seats, curtains, and carpet are all part of the plan, and the goal is to raise $75,000.
Anna Lee: Wow! The dedicated seats are a great idea! It isn’t often one gets to specifically support a beloved institution’s arts program and have one’s name or children’s names engraved on a seat, there to support every play and “LMS Day” for years to come. No alumnus or parent should be without! Are seats still available?
Jessica: They are! At $250 per seat, we hope to raise more money for the auditorium through the initiative. I can be contacted directly for information pertaining to seat dedication at the4youngbloods@ gmail.com
Anna Lee: That’s wonderful. Get in touch with Jessica about dedicating a seat to your grandchild, elementary-aged children, or yourself as an alum! In closing, how much money was raised overall?
Jessica: We are just over $90,000 before we pay out our expenses for the evening. It was an incredible fundraiser, and the community turned out like never before. We are so thankful!
Anna Lee: That’s a breathtaking number, almost $100,000! What an incredible community we have! Lastly, what is your advice to whatever brave parent steps into your shoes and pulls off this event next year, the acution’s 10th anniversary year?
Jessica: Delegate, delegate, delegate, and then trust! It really is a “well oiled machine” and is a very manageable job with the right volunteers.
Anna Lee: Well, you and Kristin are rockstars for pulling off NOFL 2019 and making so much money for LMS! Principle Ruth White said of you all, “I cannot thank Jessica Youngblood, Kristen Miller, and Rob Huffaker for the time, energy, and efforts they made on behalf of LMS on Friday evening. The event was a total success and a joy to attend!”
I heartily agree that it was a joy to be there and hope that everyone gets to turn out in droves and turns out their pockets in honor of our beloved LMS next year on Night Out for Lookout’s 10th anniversary, and, in the meantime, get in touch with Jessica about that seat with your name on it!