Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society

News & Events

Double Down with Gratitude

Last year, Assist’s Silent Auction opened with a splash. A big splash, caused by a small boat adrift in a tropical storm, called the SS Minnow. The Minnow excursion was one of our signature auction items—a three- hour tour out of Qualicum Beach on one of the three boats used in the iconic TV show, Gilligan’s Island, beautifully refurbished and restored, along with accommodations and dinner at a beautiful resort. The generous donor “threw in” private jet transportation both ways for the lucky winner, valued alone at about $18,000. (And I threw in a pair of Gilligan hats that I found online!)
We are gearing up for our second silent auction, and we have already received some wonderful donations. But we need your help bringing in special and unusual items.
Our first silent auction was a way of celebrating Assist’s 25th anniversary as an incorporated society providing support to the Alberta legal community (although lawyers in the recovery community had been doing this for much longer.) We couldn’t gather together for an event yet needed to raise funds, so we created an online community around a silent auction titled “$25,000 for 25 Years.” The event was so popular that we netted more than $40,000 and Assist supporters and the broader legal community were able to enjoy trying to outbid each other from a safe distance.
Building on last year’s success and wanting a stretch goal, we set $50,000 as our target, and we named the event “Doubling Down with Gratitude” since we are doubling last year’s goal, and we want to highlight how fortunate most of us who will participate in the silent auction. Expressing gratitude helps build resilience, and we all need more of that as we resume our busy lives knowing that the pandemic and other seasonal illnesses may be lurking around the corner.
I have a question for you: are you grateful for anything in your life?
If you are, then please take a moment to think about what you are grateful for. Some people like journaling their gratitude, but writing these feelings is not in everyone’s comfort zone.
Did anyone help you achieve the thing that you are grateful for?
If you are a person who has achieved success and happiness on your own, congratulations—that is an incredible accomplishment. But most of us have had support and encouragement in a variety of ways. I lived at home, with my mother, while I went to law school. I don’t know if I would have gone to law school if I had had to incur student loans by moving to a different city. I am grateful that I had financial support that enabled me to pursue my education without going broke.
Think about the person or people who supported and encouraged you. This is part of our gratitude exercise. If you are feeling jazzed about this, please consider sending a short note of thanks to someone who made a difference in your life. In addition to expressing gratitude, you will also be giving something to someone else which is also a way of building resilience.
Have you ever considered sharing your gratitude with a group of friends? Think of an old-style sharing circle where everyone would say one thing they are grateful for, or perhaps a corporate team building exercise (but only if you enjoy and trust your team).
Gratitude, giving to others, and spending time with friends or on enjoyable activities are important well-being builders. They generate positive emotions, and we need more positive emotions than negative ones in order to thrive (and be resilient!)
If you enjoyed getting a little lift from this exercise, please consider supporting our Silent Auction—you will be expressing gratitude and giving to others by donating an item or by becoming a sponsor (more below). You will have positive interactions with people who like your item, and you will be part of a warm community of Assist supporters.
Sometimes we want to support an event like a silent auction, but we can’t think of anything we could donate. We have a strategy for that—we can help you put together a gift basket or item in your price range.  Eileen and I have all sorts of ideas based on what people did last year as well as inspirations that arose from last year’s items. Please ask us if you want us to help!
And sometimes we can’t, or don’t want to, donate items or bid and buy auction loot. If you want to support us, please consider volunteering! Here are a few ways you can volunteer to help make Assist’s Double Down with Gratitude a success:

  • We will need photos of all items. Last year, I took photos on my cell phone, and we only posted one picture where my dog wandered into the photo shoot (just for fun.) I am known for my poor photography skills—in addition to the one showing my dog, we edited out the ones with finger outlines in the upper right. You don’t have to be a good photographer—you just have to be better than me (and that bar is really low.)
  • We may need help picking up items from donors. We will be storing items in both Edmonton and Calgary, and while donors will be able to drop some items off easily, others may be a bit more complicated.
  • We need to write engaging descriptions. Because I had most of the items sitting on my almost-never used pool table, it was easiest for me to write the blurb after I photographed it. But when you write a hundred, you start feeling like a factory. If you have a creative bent, sign up for this opportunity!
  • Approaching businesses that you support to ask if they would like to donate an item to be showcased in our online gallery or to have their business name and website link displayed as a sponsor. The legal community is a desirable market segment.
  • Do you have clients who operate restaurants, galleries, retail businesses? They may be interested in getting their names in front of our population.
  • Do you have a special skill or hobby that you could share, perhaps through a teaching session or with something you have made? We have cross-country ski lessons donated by an avid lawyer skier!
  • If, you like me, are worried that some of your point programs are going to disappear before you can use your points up, please consider ordering something that you think someone would appreciate and donate it to the auction. I will look into the ins and outs of issuing tax receipts for donated items that you purchased using points!
  • Urge your firm to support Assist with a donation or a sponsorship. I email managing partners to request their support, but we know how many emails cross their desk every day. Having a person deliver a request is much more meaningful. We have three sponsorship levels: Grand Ambassadors ($1000), Ambassadors ($500) and Advocates ($250.)

And if lawyer well-being is not the charity you want most to support right now, we understand that. Here are links to two other very important fundraising projects:

Assist’s Silent Auction is intended to be a fun activity that raises money, but we know that compulsive shopping and gambling are mental health issues. Some people believe that live auctions simulate the high that gamblers experience—we all feel the endorphins when we bid and then even more so if we are the successful bidder. And as much as I joke about my retail therapy sessions, compulsive shopping a behavioural compulsion which needs to taken seriously.
If you know that you have tendencies towards gambling or compulsive shopping, please do not feel any pressure to participate in our Silent Auction, and consider discussing these concerns with one of our counsellors. Our counsellors are non-judgmental, and they have strategies to assist with compulsive behaviour.
I am frequently asked why Assist fundraises. The reality is that we receive a funding grant from the Law Society each year that covers a large portion of our expenses. We are very grateful for the support we receive from the Law Society, but we are independent of the Law Society, and sourcing a portion of our funding helps us maintain that distinction.
Having us raise funds from the legal community also helps show that Alberta lawyers value our programs. When people make donations, in kind or with money, they are telling us, and other lawyers, that we are doing good work. We always ensure that individuals can donate funds anonymously so that no one is “outed” as being part of our community who does not want to be.
Have fun thinking about creative ways of supporting our Silent Auction!