At Large in Ballard: Ballard Senior Center 26th Annual Gala Auction is Sunday, Mar. 24
By Peggy Sturdivant
Why call disasters a perfect storm?
Every year Ballard Senior Center somehow plugs its funding holes, and actual facility holes, while counting on its Annual “Spring for Seniors” Auction as its largest fundraiser. There couldn’t have been a worse time to have their computer network system hijacked and held for ransom one month beforehand.
The snowstorms of February were not helpful either. February is when volunteers solicit and gather donated items, sell event tickets, use the newsletter to build up the event. So when their computer system was completely disappeared during the snow events it exemplified the term perfect storm, as in a convergence of disastrous events.
“We don’t pay ransom,” is what Director Carlye Teel said about Sound Generation’s policy on the malware attack. They were completely without computers for eight days and have been creeping there way back to functional since the beginning of March. But the missing time is still a major problem. There may be people who bought tickets, but the Senior Center doesn’t know. There may have been items donated online but the Senior Center doesn’t know. They couldn’t access their mailing list. Their computers and email contacts were completely down. They couldn’t send out the March newsletter.
Here’s what Director Carlye Teel does know. The auction will go on as scheduled, Sunday March 24th. Their goal is still to raise $80,000. However restored files show only 48 guests to date; normally they would be to at least 120 by now. They know of 132 donated items; normally they’re over 200 by this late in preparations.
I love Carlye. She’s one of my heroes, in part due to her ability to put a positive spin on almost anything that happens. So when she said, “The auction is a mess,” she managed to sound upbeat, but honest. “The computers were completely down for eight days,” she said. “We know we lost some data, but don’t necessarily know what. Even things that are back, are ‘weird’.”
Ballard Senior Center is a community partner of Sound Generations and purportedly their firewalls were excellent, their back-ups regular, their network protected. It may have been a random attack with a hacker getting lucky.
So the snow and ice disrupted their volunteers, their services, their Rummage Sale preparation and now the computer hack has put the auction prep into its own emergency. They have been phoning members to let them know what happened and why the need is great.
What can I do, I asked Teel. “Just pass along the word,” she said. Meaning, donate. Buy auction tickets. Buy a table. Raise the paddle.
“It will work out,” Teel said, “this community always manages to pull together.”
I think she’s the one doing a lot of the pulling, but I want to be on her side of the rope.
The 26th Annual Gala Auction is Sunday, March 24th at 5 p.m. To buy tickets or make donations you can call them 206.297.0403.