By Jim A. Luff
Running a limo service in your town gives you to the opportunity to make money but it also gives you an opportunity to give back to the community that you support through good deeds.
Let’s face it, we have something everyone loves. People love to look and limousines, ride in limousines and take pictures next to limousines. Knowing this, why not make dreams come true? There are many opportunities that exist within communities such as chapters of Make-A-Wish Foundation or similar charities. Better yet, create your own event.
In 2000, I became aware of a dinner being planned by local 911 dispatchers from the local police, sheriff, fire department and ambulance companies. The idea was simple. They all talk to each other on the phone regularly but rarely have a face to connect to the familiar voice. Each dispatcher was expected to pay $25 a ticket to attend the dinner. If they wanted to bring their spouse, that was okay too for another $25.
I attended that first dinner with my wife who is a 911 dispatcher. It was truly a simple affair. They “borrowed” the local Elk’s Lodge hall and served a nice little deep pit dinner. A bar was set up manned by volunteers, presumably spouses of dispatchers. Everybody ate, glad handed and headed out. The biggest fanfare of the night was four police officers dressed in Class A funeral attire that carried in the American Flag, saluted and pledged. After that, they left. No department/agency really seemed enthused or even interested about the little dinner for about 80 people and it was all done outside of work. This just really didn’t sit well with me. The event was billed as the first “annual dispatcher dinner”.
I decided that next year had to be better and I, with the help of my rich and powerful clients could do it better. Dispatchers should not have to pay for their own meal and should be recognized for their efforts. Awards should be handed out. A band or deejay would be nice too. So it was that Limousine Scene would become a “sponsor” of the event. I sent out nearly a hundred letters on my letterhead asking people to support this cause. I asked them to send me $25 or sponsor a table for $250. I called local stores for door prizes. I got a deejay to donate her time. The money began pouring in. I myself purchased a table. No dispatcher had to pay for dinner anymore and each agency was asked to pick a “dispatcher of the year” from their ranks. We then collected information about each agency nomination and selected a “Dispatcher of the Year” for the entire county. Some agencies still didn’t want to play ball including the California Highway Patrol.
By the time the 3rd year rolled around, it became easier to get money as people who donated before donated again. We had more money, more door prizes and more people. The news media was involved now. Other agencies from outlying communities wanted to get their dispatchers involved. Industry associations such as the firefighters association wanted to make donations of cash. This caused a problem because checks had been written to Limousine Scene in the past. Now, we needed our own non-profit tax ID number. We became officially known as the Kern County Dispatcher Recognition Program. We moved to new digs at a rental hall called Blue Bayou. They too donated their building and accepted only money they made selling drinks at their bar.
By year number five we had outgrown the Bayou and forced to move up a notch as we headed off to a swank country club to hold our dinner of 400 people. The chiefs of all agencies attend now. People come dressed in their Class A uniforms. The Highway Patrol is now a participant. The country club is lined with emergency vehicles of all kinds as the agencies show the support of their dispatchers. People dress in their finest clothes and refer to this as the annual prom. The event is supported by the community. Every news outlet in town sends a camera crew. The Dispatcher of the Year is prominently featured in the media. Last year, the tables were turned as my wife was selected as dispatcher of the year. Now, I know what you are thinking but I don’t have anything to do with the selection of the dispatcher. It is a committee made up of agency reps who decide. Upon being awarded, I was presented an award for my years of dedication to this program and the funding that Limousine Scene provides and other efforts that make this thing happen every year.
The best side benefits are that every law enforcement agency, fire departments and ambulance service knows Limousine Scene for this annual dinner. Our name is on every table. Collectively, these dispatchers rent and refer new clients to us year round. They are grateful for our efforts and they remember us anytime they can throw business our way. Likewise, we always get camera time with the media who always asks us why we do it. I don’t tell them I did it because my wife made me. I tell them that all businesses should support the community they serve if we want the community to support us. It sure does feel good when you know what a great time people had.
Don't let your guests down. Here are some things to think about before the event starts.
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