Annually in my home town, the Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. hosted a Jabberwock Extravaganza. It was an event that most of our community supported. Groups began preparing performances for their competition as soon as the theme was announced. My Godmother was always actively involved and that meant for as long as I can remember, I was right there in the audience enjoying being in a special section. My childhood dream was that one day I would be crowned Miss Jabberwock.
Then it happened, I turned 16 and my Godmother thought it was time for me to enter the Jabberwock Pageant. This contest was all about raising money for the organization’s scholarship fund. Winning the contest was my goal. I was determined to make my dream a reality- “being crowned Miss Jabberwock.”
My first thought was to come up with a new strategy to raise money beyond just asking people to take out ads for the souvenir journal and purchasing tickets for the event. All the contestants and their sponsors would be doing that. I wanted to do something different. But what could it be? Finally, I had an idea and shared it with my mother to get her feedback. She thought the idea would generate money and was fully on board. I couldn’t wait to contact one of my dearest friends to see if she would be willing to be a part of my plan. After I explained to her what I needed, she agreed to support me. Then I made a list of other friends who might also be willing to join my fundraising activity. Each person I asked said they were willing to support me after getting approval from their parents. Next was my aunt, who was known for raising the most money for her church group. I gave her a call and she was all in to assist me not only in selling tickets but identifying a sponsor. There was one last but important detail that I needed to confirm. Would my piano teacher be supportive? When I explained my idea and asked her what she thought, she replied “Why that is novel. I think you just might have a winner.” She cautioned me that to pull it off I would need to practice daily and memorize my music. If I was committed to doing those things, she was willing to get me prepared. Without hesitation, I agreed. My teacher selected the songs that I would play and then I began preparing. My friend began rehearsing her songs too. I was excited to present my first piano recital. And to have my friend as my guest soloist.
Now to promote my recital, required getting tickets printed and designing flyers that could be disseminated to local churches and businesses. My friends then helped me disseminate them. I visited people at their homes and made a personal sales pitch. Tickets were only a dollar. So people often bought several. Before I knew it, all of my 500 tickets were sold.
The day of my recital, I performed to a packed church, my friend sang beautifully and there standing with me were all of my friends serving as ushers. Between ticket sales, patrons, and sponsors, I exceeded my goal. Now I had to wait and see if my effort would be enough for me to win.
The night of the Pageant finally arrived. I was excited more than ever because Lena Horne was in town. The word had spread that she would be crowning Miss Jabberwock. And the winner this evening of Miss Jabberwock is…..
My name was called and I stepped forward as Lena Horne crowned me Miss Jabberwock! This was indeed my “Sweet 16!”
There were several lessons that I learned from this event about winning that I have carried with me over the years.
Winning is the result of…. not being afraid to dream big and try something new; getting feedback from others about your ideas; developing and executing a strategy; engaging others to support you in your effort; spending personal time with people whose support you need; preparing diligently; and staying focused.