Friday, October 29, 2010

Quest's Big Event Through the Eyes of Draya

I usually find going out in the evening to be frustrating and way too draining. Quest has been important in my life so when I saw a call out for volunteers for the Partner Appreciation Event on October 14th, I didn’t hesitate to put in on my schedule. Being early in the evening and at a place I’m already comfortable with was very important.

I love a great party. Despite being an introvert, I actually like to be social, but find it very difficult most of the time. I find crowds and parties overwhelming and a high sensory stimulating environment. I often experience this as physically painful. I also struggle with social interaction; it’s not that I’m shy so much. I realize I don’t understand some basic things like knowing when my turn to talk is, or thinking of something to say, and getting what I mean to say to come out of my mouth how I think it.

I cleaned myself up and slipped into the cowboy boots Starla (another volunteer) and I found on the sidewalk on our way home from Quest a few months ago. I figured they would make a good conversation topic if I needed one.

When I arrived at 4pm the store was already buzzing. I walked up the stairs to the office, boots clacking away, to find it transformed. There was a coat rack in my usual workspace and small round tables placed around the room. Long buffet tables were covered in white tablecloths and centered by gorgeous flowers.

I was very anxious, feeling ill at ease, so I went looking for Starla and began taking photos since that was what I was here for. Having a camera gives me something to hold onto and something to do that takes my attention off my anxiety. The evening flew by.

The food prepared by the folks at the H.A.V.E. CafĂ© was amazing. I particularly liked the caramelized onion mini tarts, the baby samosas, and the caramel cake. I’m familiar with their sandwich trays from another volunteer gig at UBC Learning Exchange. The egg salad is my favourite (thanks for the egg on brown btw) as they use a nice sweet onion.

There was also a bar set up in the boardroom with a selection of red and white wine and a lovely non-alcoholic punch. Tending bar were some of the volunteers from Boston Pizza.

There were several moving speeches by a number Quest partners followed by a presentation of the short video by Leslie Dancey ( . I was blown away and am pretty sure there were a few people wiping the corner of their eyes by the time it ended.

Despite starring in it, Starla didn’t see it because she was downstairs getting ready for the main event of the evening. She was one of three folks on a team representing Quest volunteers in a cooking challenge. Also on the team were D, a new volunteer and Ritchie (who also did the dishes and took out the garbage at the end of the night).

The other two teams were from Helping Spirit Lodge and H.A.V.E.

Each team was allowed to choose 10 items from the Quest store and were given a single burner to create a unique meal. It was exciting to watch both the contestants and the crowd. I missed some shots because I was afraid to get in too close. After 45 minutes it was time for cooking to stop and judging to begin. The judges, Matthew Hoag from Boston Pizza and the guy from where?, sampled each teams creation before wandering off to confer in a quiet corner for several minutes.

The prize for first place was a Pizza Party for 10 at Boston Pizza and publication of the winning recipe.

The judges returned and declared that the Quest team was the winner! The other two teams were presented with gift certificates as well.

It was a great event. I saw some folks I know and met some new people. I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone for a few hours and I was completely wiped out, but it was worth it.

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