Back nearly two decades ago, Sandy Marshall was the director of volunteer services at Lakes Region General Healthcare in a role that had her constantly interfacing with members of the community. After a volunteer invited her to get involved with the Auction, she became one of its public faces, too.
In those days, the phone bank was active, with people sitting at tables, answering the phones with paper sheets listing the six items currently up for bid. Sandy was one of the people volunteers handed the most up-to-date bid sheets to, and she’d call out the ever-changing updates like an auctioneer.
Then, the bids would close, Sandy would announce the winning offer, and the next board, featuring the next six items, would go up, and the volunteers would keep moving, flexing, and making it all happen.
“There were certain times, like on a Friday, when there were many boards. It was a board every five or six minutes, or sometimes, faster than that,” Sandy says. “For the people on the phone bank and at the bid board, it was wild and crazy and busy and chaotic—and really fun.”
The former public relations director for the hospital, Sandy now serves as director of development and community relations at Spaulding Academy & Family Services. She has sat on multiple nonprofit boards in the region, and says getting more deeply involved with the Auction, back when her 18-year-old granddaughter was a baby, seemed natural.
“It fell into what I was already doing,” Sandy says. “The people that were there, and also the fact that it was such an incredible process, and an incredible organization. The week of the Auction was exhausting. It was amazing. It was wonderful. It was heartwarming. It was sad when you heard some of the stories. It was every emotion you could go through, all rolled into one.
“The biggest thing was the people at that Auction, working their tails off every day,” she adds. “That was what probably drove me back, working with all of them. Everyone is there for the same reason, and for me, that was really special.”
After she was invited by volunteer Christopher Boothby to help out on the bid board, Sandy became a volunteer who worked all five days of the Auction. She later sat on the Disbursements Committee and then on the Auction’s Board of Directors, sitting as chair from 2017 to 2018.
She particularly enjoyed the work of the Disbursements Committee, which involved reviewing grant applications and making decisions on where the funds would be allocated.
“That was intense,” she says. “You’ve got a short window of time for that, and there were so many agencies, and we tried to connect to them. I loved everything, but that was one of the things that I really enjoyed. You learned so much about so many amazing nonprofit organizations by reading their grant applications and getting to know them. That was a great way to learn what goes on in the Lakes Region.”
Sandy’s last Auction was in 2019, before the pandemic, and she has stepped off the board, noting the organization is in “incredibly good hands” with board chairperson Jaimie Sousa. “She’s young and incredibly forward-thinking and able to take the Auction to the next step,” Sandy says.
Several Auctions stand out for Sandy as particularly memorable, such as the year that the power went out. “With no power, there was no Auction,” she says.
“We ran down to the radio station in Gilford to keep it going,” Sandy recalls. “We were literally handing out peoples’ private cell phone numbers, so bidders could continue to place bids. That’s how committed everyone was. That was a true testament to how committed people were to the Auction, so we didn’t miss a bid or a story on a family that was in crisis. That always really stuck with me.”
Another year, before Christmas, a fire destroyed the home of a family of seven, and a local fireman began recruiting help from Auction donors and bidders. “Within a month, that family had a home, and they had a Christmas,” Sandy says. “It was so amazing to see that happen and to see the Auction take such a pivotal role in helping that family.”
Sandy says she hopes the Auction and its legacy continue forever. “The kids that have benefitted from the Auction—there are just so many,” she says. “The Lakes Region should be really proud of the work that it’s done and for its commitment to kids.”