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Date: 2008-01-20 20:35:09
Social Butterfly Club Monthly Newsletter - Nov 07

Black Tie & Blue Jeans Auction Gala

If you love air shows, planes, jets, and helicopters, Nov. 16th was a night that gathered the aviation industry professionals and others alike for a common cause – raise funds for aviation scholarships.

Two hundred silent auction items was up for grabs, and just about everything sold. Items were from hotel stays, dinners, to model airplanes and toy cars. There was something for everyone. The live auction items were really fantastic, but due to poor sound quality, half of the people in the building did not hear the announcer.

The guests enjoyed a variety of food supplied by Richmond Hotel, Marriott, Delta Airport Hotel, Executive Hotel, and CLS Catering. Andrew Peller Estates Wine, Sanduz Wine and The Delf Group were on site to provide our guests with a variety of wine. We also had the support of Granville Island Brewery and National Brewers to keep the beer flowing. In addition, gourmet coffee was provided by Moritasse Coffee and Starbucks, and a variety of tea selection from the T Room.

The gala was run smoothly thanks to our MC Richard Casavant, whom I would recommend to anyone who needs a public speaker or MC. The Peter Robinson group filled in the empty air with their wonderful jazz music. The audience had the opportunity to browse through some of the tradeshow booths including: Careers Today, Flight Adventures, Avcorp, Penta Aviation, Aramic Boutique, XS Blast Energy Drink, Sandman Hotel Richmond, Short Stop Auto Service & Big O Tires in Richmond, and a display of four beautiful cars from MCL Motors.

The Richmond Review, Richmond News, and Vancouver View Magazine were at the event to join in the festivities.

Chali-Rosso Art Gallery brought half a million dollars worth of art featuring artists Salvador Dali, Chagall, and the like… Unfortunately the 700 person crowd was not that into art – the gallery sold around ten pieces of art.

Our wonderful team of volunteers was there at 9:00 in the morning to help set up the space, and they were there until midnight for strike down. I cannot thank them enough for the support and effort they put in. I also have to thank Surdel Party Rentals for providing all the party rentals; s96 Décor for transforming an airplane hanger into a party venue; and Chair Décor for all the black and blue silk table cloths. Of course we couldn’t leave out the wonderful photographers Q Parker and Jim Jorgensen, and the miracle worker Van Eyk Olivier from Break Free Productions for providing us with seamless video coverage.

This function could not have happened without the generosity of so many people and businesses – people who donated their products or services to the silent auction, or money (like Flying Beaver) to support the aviation students. Thank you. Thank you. And Thank you. Check back soon with soon to see all the pictures from this event.

Education or school of hard knocks?

Having been a teacher since September 2005, I’ve seen the quality of students drop. Recently, while talking to a friend who is a computer science and marketing professor at a local University College, he told me that he’s constantly battling with students who want to be entertained instead of being educated. They listen to their iPod during class, having learned from “The Secret” to envision an A without attending class or doing homework. They also email the teacher five minutes before class to say that they won’t be coming in.

The course I teach is adult education, and there is no prequalification for students to get in. My students range from fresh out of high school, to people in their 50s trying to get into another career, to hotel staff and employees from various event venues, to international students.

In 2005, most of my students went through the course excited and very serious about their class project. Now, I have 1-2 students drop out after the first class, and 1-2 students who drop out mid way, or students who just don’t show up and don’t call. Most of my classes are half empty because students are sick, working on homework for another class, away on vacation, family emergencies, etc.

My friend was telling me that, over the past 3 years, enrolment has dropped a lot across all the post secondary schools. This meant that classes got cancelled, and some teachers had been laid off. The government cut certain funding to the schools, so now they’re all competing for the same students. The University of British Columbia has lowered its acceptance standard so it can have more students. The universities see international students as a cash cow, so the tuition for international students has increased 100% over the last 3-4 years, and the enrollment has also dropped.

Due to the shady business practices of many ELS Schools in Vancouver, the government of China has issued a warning for students interested in pursuing education in Vancouver. Many of these ESL schools don’t have the legal right to give out the certification, or they close midway through the semester. I befriended a gentleman who taught in an ESL school. He told me that it is a minimum paying job, responsibilities are huge and the teacher turnover is very high. Vancouver ESL schools seem to have a very bad reputation around the world.

Another issue the schools are facing is that a lot of potential students are going into the trades, or simply not enrolling due to the fear of racking a huge student loan debt. Everything is getting more expensive. The parking lot at Kwantlen is now half empty, so the school had to increase the parking fee from $1 to $2, which resulted in even less parked cars.

I believe in education, but I believe people should volunteer some of their time to be an intern within an industry before investing $40,000 into their education, so they know what they’re getting into. Universities and colleges are great places to meet intelligent, experienced people who could share with you knowledge you cannot conceive elsewhere.

It feels so good to see students pursuing their passion and putting on a show! One of my students, Cecilia Roa is running a successful floral shop that offers event planning services in Coal Harbour ( Another group of my students organized a Jazz Winter Wonderful night at Crush Champagne Lounge recently. It was so successful that the club asked them to do a regular night there. Stories like these get me inspired as a teacher, and get my creative juices going on how to improve the course.


The Best Buy across from Burnaby Metrotown had their grand opening on this past Friday. We saw people lining up starting from Monday – people with their blankets and lawn chairs! By Thursday, it was a huge line up, and they had security around the block to secure the area. It looked like just before Boxing Day or a line up for buying concert tickets.

Isn’t it strange that people would give up the comforts of their home and go out and wait in the cold of winter to save some money on electronics? By Saturday, the big snow storm, nobody was lined up or going into the Best Buy. A friend from University works for Best Buy as a merchandise purchaser. It was interesting to learn from him that Best Buy owns Future Shop, but the two brands are very different. Best Buy is designed for female shoppers, so there are not many sales people on the floor. But there is a lot of signage to educate the shoppers about the various products. Whereas Future Shop is designed for men’s shopping habits, with lots of salespeople.

Due to the strong Canadian dollar against the US dollar, a lot of people have been going over to the United States for shopping. A friend of mine went to the US recently for Black Friday (the day before Thanksgiving being the US biggest shopping day, like the Canadian Boxing Day). He and his girlfriend ended up with bruises all over from the violent pushing and shoving. He told me he will never go to a Black Friday again in his life. This got me to think about, are these people buying things they absolutely need or are they simply satisfying their wants?

A close friend of mine has worked for the clothing retailer Smart Set for many years. She told me that Smart Set is owned by a corporation that also owns R & W, Reitmans, and many other retail brands. When I heard this, I thought it was the most brilliant business strategy. Have different brands to cater to different demographics!

Changing Careers
I love my business Gracious Host Events, but after many months of soul searching, I realized that any business takes at least two people to run it. Events are all consuming. Once I have an event, I'm 100% into it, which means I don't have time for sales and marketing. I cannot see myself running a business full time when I have a family and children. I have enjoyed my time running my business, but now I am looking forward to the next career opportunity.

For those of you who are not familiar with my background, I have owned and run my own events management and public relations company for the past 4 years. I have organized and executed national conferences, fundraising galas, tradeshows, and Christmas parties. I have a BA from SFU specializing in Public Relations. I have achieved TV, magazine, newspaper and radio coverage for my various clients. I love dealing with suppliers to get the best price for my clients, and managing the logistics. I have a passion for writing and teaching. I would love to get a position with any media, venue, association or tourism company. My many contacts in the city means that I can get things done – be it printing, advertising, recruiting or interviewing.

I believe great people know great opportunities. So if you know something great, I would love your referral. If you would like to know more about my background and skills, I’d be happy to talk to you or the person you refer me to.
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