2020 is here as we embrace digital gatherings!

2020 is here as we embrace digital gatherings!

By Joseph Concannon

As every restaurant, pizza parlor, bar and food court shutter their doors, so too did Antuns Caterers by order of the State of New York in addressing the Coronavirus.  What would happen to our dinner, our fundraiser, and how would we move forward?

For the very first time all New Yorkers were introduced to “social distancing.”  Social distancing is the nemesis of our annual gala in which socialization and networking are key components.  Our dinner is a place where politicians and candidates alike come to “shake hands,” develop new relationships and enjoy the historical aspects of the event.

Our 145th event was on pace to once again have 400-500 attendees, rekindle relationships, enjoy a great dinner and service by Antuns.  Yet it seemed as though every signal we received was to cancel the event out of hand and suffer the loss.

We are the Queens Village Republican Club.  We are strong-minded, independent and determined to overcome adversity in all its forms.  We never back down, never cower at the sign of opposition and we break down barriers large and small to accomplish our mission.  It is who we are as a club and for 145 years we have prevailed.

Our forward-thinking club needed to make a key strategic decision in the face of this virus and that was whether to present our dinner to our members and friends in a digital format.  This meant reviewing our flyer with formatted agenda and transferring that into a digital show.  Sounds easy, but it is a ton of work and requires an enormous amount of flexibility and focus.  Our speakers, our awardees, our introductions, our master of ceremonies, every aspect of our event had to be duplicated, verified and assigned a place in our digital dinner.

Frustrated at every turn, how would our members, friends and families respond?  Could we get our members, friends, event attendees to buy into this new format of video conferencing and tune in for two hours?  How would we fundraise and would our members when confronted with these challenges rise to the occasion?  We thought we were doomed. 

Surprise, surprise, as our board members joined us for four nights of training and familiarity as we tested out Zoom video conferencing and experimented with its functions.  We were gaining confidence.  Steve Bannon said no problem.  Katie Hopkins flew into NY for our event and several others and then had to fly back before the travel ban into the UK kicked in.  A day later Katie confirmed she was fully on board.  Confidence was certainly building. Each of our honorees developed a video and we knew we had a winner.  Especially as Sgt. Philip Kahn, 100 years young stepped up and gave a terrific video presentation.  Sgt. Kahn just blew us away, a true patriot!

The 145th Digital Dinner went off without a hitch, donations are still coming in as of this writing so our accounting for the event is going to be delayed.  The generosity of our members and friends is a testament to the strength and power of our wonderful club.  This event was our annual fundraiser.  Everyone knew it and after our digital dinner we heard from many of you, “I want to donate my ticket to the club”, “I want to donate 75 dollars” and many, many other expressions of generosity.  It’s frankly overwhelming.  Thank you is just not enough and keep it coming because we have some huge bills to pay. 

Our club and its prominence in New York goes without saying.  Remember please, and help us teach and inform others that elections have consequences and voting matters.

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