Friday, November 18, 2011

People Like Pete

My favorite thing about my job isn’t the satisfaction of raising money for great blood services initiatives.  It isn’t my funky little D.C. office that’s spitting distance from the White House and 1.5 blocks from a fabulous oyster bar. It isn’t even the paycheck (trust me—it’s not the paycheck).

Corny as it sounds, my favorite aspect of this work is the people I get to meet while I’m out there doing my thing.  Sure, I meet a lot of fellow “train wrecks,” as we multi-gallon blood recipients often jokingly refer to ourselves.  And I meet a lot of “angels”—those multi-gallon blood donors who often demur that it’s nothing. But every so often, I have the privilege of meeting someone like Pete.

Pete has no personal tie to the blood cause.  He doesn’t work for a blood center or for any sort of company remotely in the transfusion medicine arena.  I don’t even know if he donates blood (though ten bucks says he does).

Pete owns Alignment Enterprises, a brand-building company that specializes in live event production. I was introduced to him eight months ago via email when a mutual friend suggested he get in touch with me.  His first correspondence began with this: Mary Richardson sent me your way.  I would be honored to support you, the Foundation for America’s Blood Centers and the Preeclampsia Foundation with your important gala event, Saving Grace.

Now, me being me, I assumed I had another vendor on my hands willing to help me—for a hefty fee—with the huge fundraiser I was co-chairing. So I shot Pete a quick email back: I hope Mary clarified that we do not have an event budget to work with—hopefully that won’t scare you away. Pete’s reply was immediate and emphatic: Count me in!

Thus began a working relationship I would come to cherish.

Pete stepped in with a team of professionals who each brought a special talent to the gala-planning process: writing, production management, audio-visual, photography, videography.  He launched weekly conference calls, during which a dozen of us would participate in the development of the live program for the first-ever public dinner gala being co-hosted by the foundation I head up. He even secured the (pro bono) help of a world-renowned musical composer and conductor, who then wrote an original song for the cause to be performed live at the gala.

Having worked on some fairly major events in my PepsiCo brand management days, I knew how much time and effort Pete’s team was putting into the creation of the Saving Grace program. And every time I sent Pete yet another email of gratitude, the response was pretty consistent: It’s my honor to be involved, Lauren.

When “game day” arrived (last Saturday), Pete and his crew were as supportive and upbeat as they’d been at the outset. They hustled about the grand ballroom adjusting lighting, testing microphones, marking up the stage. My co-chair, Patrick, and I were joking during the rehearsals that we would have been “dead in the water” if not for Pete.  And by joking I mean not really.

Last February, Pete was a complete stranger. But by the time he and I shared a celebratory cocktail in the hotel bar at midnight, this complete stranger had become a dear friend.

It’s all about the people. 

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Lauren's book, Zuzu's Petals: A True Story of Second Chances (In The Telling Press, 2011), is the #1 Top Rated memoir on Kindle. Hardcover copies are available at, or signed copies can be ordered at Happy Reading!


  1. Yay - I love stories like this. Such an awesome reminder that people really are what matter in this thing called life :) Sounds like the event went well - woohoo!

  2. Thanks, Ashley! People who need people...we're the luckiest people in the world. Wait! I'm going to write a song!