Phonathon raises money for senior class, JC community


Senior Matt Henderson reclines in guidance counselor Larry Hensley’s office during the Senior Phonathon. Volunteers made calls in offices throughout the guidance hallway.

Brianna Glase, Online Chief

“Hello, tonight’s show is starring you, the John Carroll School, and a bucket of money.”

This was a message left by senior Matt Henderson on the voicemail of theater enthusiast Tim Pilachowski, class of ’74, during the Senior Phonathon fundraiser Nov. 13, 14, and 15.

This Phonathon, unlike the four regular Phonathons that the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations hosts per year, specifically had seniors calling past alumni in an attempt to not only raise money for the Annual Campaign but also raise money for this year’s Prom.

“Our principle goal and objective in the fall when I met with the seniors was to fundraise for the Prom. We wanted something that was quick, efficient, and easy,” senior class moderator Larry Hensley said. “I invited [Director of Annual Giving and Constituent Relations] Laura Lang to the senior meeting to discuss ideas from her area…and she had mentioned [the Phonathon] idea that we could make it a senior thing, which I think was a great idea because alumni want to hear from current students.”

Over the course of three days, volunteers from the senior class called alumni to update the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relation’s records and to ask for monetary pledges to the Annual Campaign, a fund that pays for things not covered by tuition. After all three nights, and 45 specified pledges added up to a total of $4505, with 57 additional unspecified pledges expected to be mailed in later.

According to Lang, ten percent of all the money raised during the Phonathon will be donated to the senior class as a thank you for their help. Both Lang and Hensley referred to it as a “win-win situation.”

Senior Susie Snee was one of the volunteers on the last two nights of the Phonathon. “The Phonathon is a good fundraiser. However, I’m unsure if that will get us enough money for prom. Plus I would rather do something more active than dialing a phone to get money,” she said.

Though the idea for a Senior Phonathon originally came from Lang, it was up to Senior Class President Jen Kreis to rally the seniors and get volunteers for all three nights. “I posted about the Phonathon on the NHS Facebook group and the senior Facebook group and contacted many people in person about volunteering,” Kreis said.

Senior Becky Hottle volunteered for the first night of the Phonathon. “I decided to volunteer for the Phonathon because I had never done something like this and I thought it would be a different way to raise money for the senior class,” she said.

“I told Jen Kreis that it was up to [the seniors] to recruit. All I asked was that they pick students that could conduct themselves on the phone…she has been really great, she confirmed with everybody, she’s right on top of things,” Lang said.

According to Lang, a total of 14 seniors volunteered over the course of the three days.

The overwhelming feeling of the students who volunteered was nervousness before they began making phone calls. “Before the Phonathon I was so nervous. I was scared I was going to mess up. During it, it was actually really fun. It was nice to talk to people that actually engaged in conversation with you about John Carroll,” senior Ashley Crane said.

“Before the Phonathon I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect when talking to people at first. Once I started and had my first actually conversation over the phone I felt a lot better and started to get more and more comfortable throughout the night. By the end I was starting to enjoy it and looking forward to people to answer,” senior Mackenzie Rayburn said. On the first night of the Phonathon, Rayburn ended up receiving the most money in pledges.

In addition to the benefit of fundraising for Prom, there were other incentives for seniors to volunteer. “It gave us an opportunity to connect with alumni and help us communicate with them. It also gives us an incentive to donate after we leave John Carroll,” Kreis said.

“I am a very social person so I thought it was fun talking to alumni. Some of the people were very funny about how they responded,” Snee said. Snee received the largest pledge of all three nights, having a person donate $100 per month until June.

Hensley also recognizes the value of having connections with alumni. “I think it’s very important for you as a student when you leave and get those calls to know what efforts are behind them,” Hensley said.

Some of the calls, though, caught senior volunteers by surprise. “The weirdest call I got was when a guy told me he hadn’t donated in 26 years and I was like ‘Yeah, 1996 was a long time ago.’ He called me out for not doing the math. 1996 was not 26 years ago. He made me so nervous and he didn’t even donate,” Hottle said.

Despite these kinds of calls, Lang feels that the Senior Phonathon went well. “All in all I think it was a success and one that we can continue in the future,” she said.

According to Kreis, people were pleased with the results of the Phonathon. “I’m feeling good, I think we’ve had a lot of fun doing it together and I hope our efforts paid off,” Kreis said. “I think they will.”

 Brianna Glase is the Online Chief for The Patriot and