Inauguration Report From Tasha Kennard

My Inauguration AdventureYes, indeed I was there…me and 2 million other people…it was an adventure to say the least. It is kind of a long story as to why and how I got invited and what I experienced while in DC, so here are the highlights.

Second Harvest organized a Day of Service in conjunction with Obama’s Renew America Together campaign calling for community involvement and service on MLK day. There were over 12,000 events on Monday (MLK Day) and ours included a volunteer day to help sort perishable and non perishable food donations. All event organizers were invited to enter into a YouTube video contest leading up the Day of Service and the winner would be selected by the Inauguration Committee. Our staff decided it would be fun so we pulled together our ideas and spent about 72 hours putting a video together with the help of Rick Otts for music, Aaron Cowles as the videographer and Susan Addock, a photographer that has been capturing our mission over the past few months. Whitney, Bill and I helped pull together the script and edits and Brandon posted it just in time to enter the competition. Never in a million years, did we anticipate what happened next…we won the competition. As the winner, we got featured on the website, which promoted the campaign, and we get a personal call from First Lady Michelle Obama at some point next week. We found out that we won on Friday and by the end of the day, we had tickets to the Inauguration from Congressman Cooper’s Office and our national organization invited us to attend a ball that was benefitting Feeding America (our national organization). And, the local media came over to report on our video, A Day in the Life of a Can, which features a Vietti Chili can who shares his adventure and the importance of donations and volunteers at Second Harvest. I still cannot believe that we won…

Let’s just say that we were excited. Steven and I went shopping on Saturday for the perfect “Inaugural Ball Dress” and thanks to WARREN at Green Hills Banana Republic, I found the perfect little black dress….his theme was greek goddess and he hooked me up with some accessories so all I needed was some shoes so we didn’t have to get it hemmed. Shoes found at Macy’s…yes, they were about four inches (ouch). WARREN IS AWESOME! ASK FOR HIM IF YOU SHOP THERE.

So, Jaynee (our president) and I packed up and headed to Washington on Monday afternoon. We knew that it would be a mad house and we expected crowds, but never did we anticipate what we experienced on Tuesday. Alarm at 4 am, showers and layering began as the high was 32 degrees that day. After layering like a snowbunny, we met our cab and were off to the Metro. There, we started our day of waiting and wondering. After about 2 hours, we had our Metro tickets and were on the train to DC. (We stayed in Columbia, Maryland). We had a plan and we knew where we needed to go to pick up our tickets and get to the ceremony…plenty of time (yeah right). The Metro closed several of the downtown stations due to crowding so we got off a few stops early and began our walk of a lifetime. Several twists, turns and revised directions later, we landed on the steps of Congressman Cooper’s office building. After a few handshakes and tickets in hand, we headed out to claim our “designated spot” in the Silver section of the Inauguration Ceremony. 240,000 official invites were floating around DC that day and each invite designated your section during the ceremony – orange, purple, blue and sliver. We were not expecting to be front row or anything, but we did expect to get in. Heck, we had tickets, right?

We didn’t get in. Neither did anyone we encountered with invites. Too crowded. You couldn’t even make it to the gates to enter security. Just too many people.

So after realizing that it just wasn’t going to happen, we took a chance and went back to Congressman Cooper’s Office (imagine two cold and determined women who are not use to the word “no”) and we were welcomed by his staff and provided to warm seats in front of a TV just in time to see the ceremony and enjoy the views from his corner office. Then, back to the streets to find food and a way back to the hotel to get all dolled up for the ball.

I won’t bore you with the details of how Union Station closed down and no one could get transportation out of DC because, well, it was a nightmare and I frankly do not want to relive it in written form. All you need to know is that we were blessed to get on the Marc after walking around DC for a few hours and we got back to Maryland safely and in time for a quick dinner before the ball.

One massive crab cake and a few warming glasses of wine later, we were off to the ball hosted by the Recording Artists International Association and got to see Rhianna live in concert and mingle with celebs like Leonardo Dicaprio, David Arquette and Courtney Cox. Very cool.

It was fun and a once in a lifetime experience. The only thing that wasn’t cool was the lack of crowd control/organization. If they had organized a little better, we would have been able to get to our designated section to see the ceremony, but I was a part of history that day and am so happy that I got the opportunity to be there.

I hope that President Obama brings the change he has promised and I look forward to the day that a woman is elected and history is once again changed. However, unless it is me taking that oath, I will not be attending. Watching from home is just fine. Thank you Congressman Cooper, Jaynee Day and Phil Zepeda for making this possible. I will never forget and will always be amazed by the movement our new President has created and welcomed.

Tasha Kennard
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee


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