By way of updates:
I spoke today (Aug. 27, 2015) with Sheila, the Sales Executive who is our contact at Old Mill Toronto. I had contacted her recently, at Lynn Hennebury Legge’s suggestion.
Humber Room in place of Brûlé Room C
I have agreed with Sheila’s suggestion that we move the reunion to a smaller room. Originally we had planned to have the meeting at Brûlé Room C. We will go instead with the Humber Room, which is in the second floor at Old Mill Toronto. It has windows. A great view – of the street. But a room with a view is nice!
The minimum attendance that we need to have in place is now 50. That is roughly the number of people that have registered so far.
The maximum the room can comfortably hold is about 80 if we’re using the buffet setup, which is the preferred way to go, as the buffet encourages mixing and mingling, which many people have indicated is a priority for them.
There is an anteroom with a kind of separate area, within the room.
The Humber Room is 1400 square feet. We can probably go with 6 tables of 10. People who are good at numbers will make the final determination. There’s a service elevator, for anybody using a wheelchair. We have at least one person using a wheelchair, at this point.
I went to visit the space on Aug. 27. It’s a bit tighter than what we had before but not a bad trade-off given the circumstances. There’s an intimate quality to it. There’s plenty of room outside where people can wander to, for quiet places to chat.
Spaces, attendances, and budgets
We have made this change so that if we have in the range of 60 people, we will have a space that is intimate and congenial taking into account the number of attendees. With a space that is intended for up to 140 people, having 60 people turning up would give rise to a mismatch between the size of group and size of venue.
The need to address issues related to attendance, venue, atmosphere, and budget are things I’ve often thought about as a volunteer, during my past 30 years of organizing of events and conferences across Canada.
Other members of the organizing team are also strongly aware of such considerations, such as through a 30-year career in corporate sales, in the case of Lynn Hennebury Legge, and have extensive experience in addressing issues related to the financial viability of an event or meeting. We live in a market economy. The market speaks strongly, and we need to listen to what the market tells us.
Having the smaller room means we will have no trouble in balancing the budget. In any event of this nature, where the team signs a contract with a facility to reserve a meeting room, the organizers take on a financial risk.
The organizing team has at all times kept in mind that the reunion is on budget, and keeping the event in the black is at all times a key consideration.
Pub or conference room for Oct. 16 (that is, the Friday) get-together
We are looking at a couple of pubs as options in the event the conference room at the Stay Inn is not available. The Stay Inn is located at 560 Evans Ave. Timothy’s Pub on Brown’s Line within walking distance (depending on what shape you’re in, before or after the visit to the pub) of the Stay Inn. The Bier Mrkt just north of Sherway Gardens is another option. We welcome your suggestions.
Update: Based on suggestions to date (Aug. 28), if the Stay Inn conference room is not available, Timothy’s Pub appears the best option. It’s a 10-15 minute walk. The Bier Mrkt is not within walking distance. Comment: “Timothy’s is a good bet. Know it well. Usually good entertainment weekends. Might be a bit loud for our needs but definitely fun.”
Visit from Salon Y for last-minute hair touch-ups
For people staying at Stay Inn, we are looking into the possibility of having a hair stylist from Salon Y in downtown Toronto pay a visit to the hotel, in the event there is enough of a demand, on the Saturday, for her services. I did not realize that this would be a subject that would generate a great deal of interest and discussion, but then, what do I know?
I have, from a totally reliable source, who wishes to remain anonymous, the following testimonial regarding Salon Y:
“They don’t do like old ladies’ style. They do whatever makes you look good. They don’t do a standardized style.”
Bookings at Stay Inn
The block bookings are available until Sept. 17 – and will still be available after that, in the event that the rooms are not all reserved by other customers in the days that follow after Sept. 17.
Bookings at Old Mill Toronto
We did not arrange a booking at Old Mill Toronto for the Friday; the block booking is only for the Saturday. If you book on the Saturday and stay longer than one day, you may be able to still get the alumni rate, as I recall, but I would recommend that you check with Reservations, to confirm that this would be the case.
Rooms will remain available at the alumni rate until Sept. 17.
MCHS 2015 budget
Lynn Hennebury Legge, who has three decades of experience in corporate sales, and is a whiz at reading a budget and at putting together budgets for corporate events, has worked wonders at keeping the MCHS 2015 budget on the right side of the ledger!
As soon as she took on the role of budget person, anticipated deficits for the reunion began to vanish in front of our eyes. What an asset it is to have such a person on the organizing team!
Quiet places to chat
Just a reminder: When people want to find quiet places to chat, during the reunion, they are welcome to go into the hallways on any floor at Old Mill Toronto. There are many opportunities to find quiet places to chat. If the weather is good, you may even be able to wander outside the hotel to find patio areas where you can sit and chat. If the weather is good, outdoor furniture would likely still be in place.
As well, we have made a point of ensuring that, during the Humber Buffet Dinner portion of the reunion, we will not have loud music in the background during that time. People have said they want to be able to talk with people, when they mix and mingle, and loud music gets in the way of conversations. Many people have underlined this point.
Of course, when our DJ takes over (we owe many thanks to Gina David Cayer for lining up an A-1 DJ for the event) and the dancing begins, the volume will get turned up a bit. Even then, if you want to take a break from dancing, or if you do not wish to dance, period, you can at all times find a quiet place in a hallway where you can readily engage in quiet conversations.
$150 registration fee
In some cases, depending on circumstances, a $150 registration fee can be a burden for an MCHS graduate who wishes to attend the reunion. If you are in such a category, please contact me in confidence and we can discuss a way for case-specific, anonymous donations cover a part of the fee. In previous events that I’ve played a key role in organizing, I’ve gained experience in maintaining confidentiality regarding such arrangements.
I have also been in situations in my life where I have been short of money, scenarios that subsequently changed for the better. Having been “in that place,” I know it can be a place of hardship, and I also feel honoured that I have visited that place, and am aware of its dimensions.
Knowing that place, in my earlier years, has provided me with a level of empathy and understanding that money cannot buy; I am pleased that in the course of my life, I have had that experience. For some people, such experiences harden one’s heart. For other people, such experiences open one’s heart to the experiences of other people, whatever their circumstances may be.
The fee situations where we have reduced the fee, for the reunion, have involved a person connected with the reunion making an anonymous donation to match the fee. We do not have a situation where other attendees are subsidizing a given individual. We acknowledge that there are grads who find the $150 fee very high. Some people will not attend the event, for that reason.
We will have access to the Humber Room at 4:00 pm on Oct. 17, meaning that we will have plenty of time for volunteers to work on setting things up. Please contact me in the event you would like to help with volunteer work on that day. We have volunteers in place, but may need more.
As well, in the event people need help with rides to and from their accommodations, during the weekend of the reunion – or even a ride to or from the airport – please contact me so we can coordinate our efforts.
Please let me know, as well, if you would be able to help out in the role of Designated Driver, in the event we are looking for any additional drivers, in this category, during the reunion weekend. At all times, we seek to ensure the safety and security of each attendee at the event.
We owe thanks to a great organizing team
We are looking forward to a great reunion, and with thanks to Lynn Hennebury Legge, our financial status is A-1 rather than being deeply in the red, as might otherwise have been the case. We owe Lynn and every other member of the organizing team many thanks for all of their work in ensuring that the reunion is successful on every possible level, including the all-important financial one!
Our reunion is taking place in a natural setting, a green space in the heart of an urban environment. As a June 15, 2015 Atlantic magazine article notes, “spending time in nature is correlated with better mental health, attention, and mood in both children and adults.”