Raised on Community Service
In the early years of the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction, all high bidders could expect to hear Jared and Garrett Guilmett’s cheerful, young voices as the brothers made the calls to offer congratulations on winning an item and to arrange a time for pickup.
Now, 16 years later, the two Laconia residents are still calling on the winning bidders, and they oversee the storage of items waiting to be claimed as well as the volunteer staffing. As they’ve gained responsibility, the brothers have gained an extended family.
“The Auction is a close-knit group of people,” Garrett says. “It’s become a family, even as new people keep coming in. We’re all in it for the community. We want to give back as much as we can and help others who need it.”
It was also their own family that got the two involved in the Children’s Auction in the first place—when Jared was in fifth grade and Garrett in third. Their parents, Chris and Marlee Guilmett, visited the Auction to watch the bidding and chat with Doris Makely, the boys’ first supervisor.
“She was the life of the Auction around then,” Garrett says of Doris, who passed away in 2012. “Everybody knew her. She really pulled us in and gave us a foothold in the Auction, and we’ve kept going ever since.”
Doris instilled in Jared and Garrett a drive to give back to the community. “The Lakes Region is, in my opinion, the best region that you could live in,” Jared says. “Everybody is so welcoming, kind, and humble. We all look out for each other.”
Similarly, Jared, an architect at Misiaszek Turpin in Laconia, and Garrett, an engineer at Aavid, Thermal Division of Boyd Corporation, say their bosses support their commitment to the Children’s Auction and allow them to take time off to staff the event for all five days. That involves long days that start at 7:30 a.m. and end after 9 p.m.
During that time, Jared and Garrett stay busy, stepping in as soon as items come off the viewing screen to make sure they are filed away properly and the winners are contacted. Organizationally, the difference between the process of 16 years ago and today is like night and day.
“It’s funny to think back on when we started, when everything was analog,” Jared recalls. “Everything was paper. The phone banks were paper. It was organized chaos, with lots of hollering and yelling to relay information. With help from Jennifer McGreevy, we’ve refined how items get stored and logged, and streamlined the process.”
Though Jared and Garrett aren’t involved with all the Children’s Auction’s volunteer outreach efforts, they and Jennifer make sure their section of the Auction is staffed, finding runners who move items from set to store to cashier. They also hope to ensure the Children’s Auction is staffed for years to come.
“We’ve connected with local high schools and recruited students to come in after school,” Jared says. “We show them the ropes and get them engaged, like Doris once did for us. We’ve also gained some volunteers via Leadership Lakes Region, which I graduated from. We’re always looking for new ways to get volunteers involved to keep the Auction going well into the future.”