General Question

RedPowerLady's avatar

How can I make this event more exciting?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12566points) April 28th, 2009

At the community center I work in there is Coffee & Tea time from 10am-12pm on Thursday mornings. No one comes. Haha. I want to make it a bit more engaging or enjoyable in some way. I am new to this job so I’m not sure how it has worked in the past or if it even has. But I like the initial idea of it. Also I don’t have a budget for it beyond the coffee and tea.

The population is low-income adults. Some have physical or mental disablities. Some do not.

Other activities we do: Bread day weekly (i bring in free food to distribute), Trips to grocery store once a month, arts & crafts twice a month, Bingo weekly, and I’m starting a once a month movie night.

All ideas are appreciated. Thanx :)

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18 Answers

forestGeek's avatar

Try games that people might be interested in such as Trivia or Pictionary. Also maybe reach out to the community and try to find some acoustic musicians that might be willing to play for free.

hitomi's avatar

I was going to say the same thing as @forestGeek, finding local musicians that might be willing to perform. If you can’t just make sure that you have some music playing, people respond when there isn’t silence.

It’s also a good idea to have books, magazines, games and things available if you have a way of getting them. Events like this at my school we generally try to pair up with another event that meshes well.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

You need someone to come play some acoustic guitar for your folks while they have their tea. Music soothes, inspires.

ubersiren's avatar

Do a raffle. Get a local business to donate something… even a grocery store could donate a basket of goodies or something. You could have story time for toddlers, music playing for adults, or play a movie. I like @forestGeek‘s idea of games. You could even print out crossword puzzles and stuff like that. You could feature an animal- see if there’s a local handler that would be willing to bring in some baby (or docile adult) animals and talk about it or something. I don’t know, maybe that’s not what you’re looking for. Hold a talent show!

Dorkgirl's avatar

How about a theme? Hawaiian Day and everyone gets a lei (inexpensive ones from the party store) or have different cookies served that go with the theme?
What’s the purpose of Coffee & Tea Time? Do people understand why they should participate? What will they get out of it?
Are there posters announcing the C&T Time? How do you get the word out? A creative approach on that end might inspire participation.

basp's avatar

Themes, music and raffles are all good ideas.
For the music you might try cntacting your local high/junior high chool music department. I have done that in the past and had great results.

_bob's avatar

I guess free lap dances are not an option, are they?

sakura's avatar

Games and puzzles are good idea I agree with Dorkgirl how do yuo advertise said coffe mornings posters? try posters at your local G.P.‘s surgery/ dentis/ schools etc…
How about trips to local library- free internet access books etc to keep amused?

Lupin's avatar

15 minute informational talks. They can be done by you or an intersted participant.
I’m not sure of their age but here are some thought starters:
Recent current events, help with taxes, help with health care, what is the internet, how to find a lost friend, basic car repair and maintenance, how to use a credit card.
Making chocolate ganache, easy cooking, planting seeds in yogurt cups,
Or you can pick an NPR show like Science Friday and get ideas every week.
You’re in a position where you can make a difference! Good Luck!

cyndyh's avatar

If the goal is “come see the community center and see what we have to offer, meet your neighbors, have some free coffee and tea”, then that’s what you should go with. Are you just trying to get more people into the community center doors? Have you gone out into the community you’re trying to attract and ask them what would make them more willing to participate? Do they know this event exists and aren’t interested or do they have no idea the event exists. (I’m in Seattle and if you have free coffee and tell people about it they’re gonna show up. They might debate about the cup you’re serving, but they’ll show. :^> )

I, personally, would respond to a flier at my local library that told me there’d be a free coffee and tea day at the community center (with a small map of how to get there from the nearest major cross streets) and people were encouraged to bring whatever they’re currently reading as a conversation opener.

I have also responded to “come meet your neighbors and help clean up the neighborhood park”, but that’s me.

I love live music, but I’d caution that maybe people want to talk with other people at a community center coffee and tea event instead of listening idly. It also may not encourage people to look around at what’s happening at the center if they’re just sitting.

It also may help to be sure you have someone greeting and engaging people as they do come in. Even if it’s one or two people coming the first time you want to make them feel welcomed. (I wouldn’t refer to “no one” coming to the one or two people who did come, because that’s a sure fire way to ensure that they won’t come back.) If they leave there happy that they came they’ll come again and tell more people. They also may have a better idea about what would draw their neighbors than we do since they’re physically there, know how hard or easy it is to get there, know where the center is compared to other things in the community, know what’s lacking in the area, etc. They’re more likely to tell you their ideas if you ask them in person and not filling out a comments card.

janbb's avatar

How about advertising it as a discussion group with topics posted in advance such as “coping with the recession” or “going greener”? As suggested above, you could have a speaker do a short presentation on the topic and then lead a discussion. Maybe run a seminar on job search strategies?

Do you serve any cookies or other food with the coffee and tea? I know you said the budget is tight; maybe a local business would sponsor a bagel morning or donuts? I bet if you advertise it, people would come for food.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I just want to say thanx so far. I’m taking in all the good tips. I have quite a bit event planning experience but is always helpful to take in more information.

Jeruba's avatar

@RedPowerLady, what is the purpose of this morning coffee-tea event? If the target population isn’t interested, why have it? Perhaps the resources should be used another way. Perhaps the purpose could be accomplished another way. Is it about
– just getting them to come into the facility?
– feeding them?
– getting them to socialize?
– giving them a place to go?

What is the connection between the purpose and the way this activity is designed? It seems like there has to be a way to align it better with the need it is intended to fulfill. It can’t just be that people should come because you want them to, so what is the real aim?

filmfann's avatar

Even prerecorded music would be a good idea. Most homeless have no way to hear music, and that might give them a reason to come.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I haven’t got back to anyone about their questions frankly because i am brand spanking new to the job and I’m not sure what the answers are. A lot of you have asked about advertisement. I know there is a HUGE calendar that is posted at the bottom of the elevator of the building where all the events are listed. If I have a special event I’m allowed to promote it with additional fliers.
As to what the purpose of the event is. Well to be honest I’m not 100% sure. I believe it is a meet-and-greet type of event. But also it is just to get the Residents to make use of the community room. To tell you the truth I think we have these events scheduled to keep our funding. My job was created to help keep the funding for the low-income housing unit I work for. I provide intervention and crisis resources to the Residents. I also provide community building events. But I’m basically here to record everything so that we can justify to our funders that people do need this low-income housing (and they do). So that is a long way of saying that the purpose of the event is simply to have an event open to them if they wish to come. I, personally, would like to see more people come.
Also this is not something I can clarify with a supervisor. It is my job to keep the events going etc.. she knows little about the details related to it. She just wants me to do it so to speak.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I just want to add that I think having music is a great idea and I think I will try it out. Pre-recorded at first but once I get settled in I will be allowed to solicit people to come in so at that point I might be able to get some live music.

Jeruba's avatar

How are you positioning the benefit to them? Are you distributing some kind of information they want? Could it be an opportunity to learn about the service functions you offer, maybe with a Q&A and discussion?

You have scheduled this event during normal working hours. Are your residents not working? Would any of them be embarrassed to attend because it announces that they are not working?

Live musicians won’t want to come unless they are assured of an audience. What if you offered instruction in a simple craft or demonstrated a cooking skill?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Jeruba Most of the residents do not work. It is low-income housing. A small portion of the housing is for those who are in school or working. The rest is for Seniors (retired) or the disabled. But there seem to just be plenty of adults who just don’t work there so I don’t know how that plays in.

How are you positioning the benefit to them?
It is just a nice little thing to do instead of sit in one’s apartment. They can chat with their neighbors and enjoy the day. It would give them a chance to feel more comfortable in the community room so they may access it later when they truly need it. And as far as making it too structured, at this point the population doesn’t respond well to that unless I advertise it as such. This is more of a social event. The point is really to get people accessing the community room. So that when they need it for other purposes they won’t feel uncomfortable accessing it. Of course it can’t be advertised that way. So it is just a simple tea and coffee. But again, I am new. Very new. So that is simply my interpretation of the event.

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