to Make eBay a Level Playing Field for Disabled Users
With eBay Live in full swing, I'm standing now at the Disabled Online Users Association booth. Hundreds upon hundreds of visitors wend their way through an exhibit hall replete with sparkle and fanfare, faces revealing the allure of tokens, cards, and pins to be had. The excitement at the DOUA booth pulsates the air. What a moment; what a culmination of teamwork at every turn! An active member of DOUA, I'm proud to share in the organization's first eBay Live presence and to have been part of the months-long preparations led by DOUA Founder and Director, Marjie Smith.
Rewind to last autumn. Shortly after I was asked for a press release announcing DOUA's emergence, Chase Management assigned DOUA to booth #1022 at eBay Live. (By startling coincidence, 1022 was then also my eBay feedback score.) Already well into operation, the group announced their mission: To ensure that people with disabilities become mainstreamed into regular society by providing the skills, tools, and resources needed for alternative work. Logo designer Les Stratford soon opened a http://www.CafeShops.com store, which made available DOUA/eBay Live tee shirts, teddy bears, mugs, journals, and other customized novelties.
To steer the momentum, the DOUA booth team scheduled online meetings in a chat room provided by the Online Traders Web Alliance (OTWA). The first online meeting took place in March. Not at all timid of online chat rooms (as if), I logged in at OTWA, clicked the chat room link, and found myself, via my user name "marble," on the chat room roster along with a few other early arrivals. We weren't alone for long. As meeting time approached, the chat room filled to capacity. Those unable access the chat established ties with those who could, using instant messages and phone. The first meeting set the effort in motion.
The weekly meetings, silent as they were in chat room syntax, would punchbowl with greetings, comments, jokes, and lines of "Hi everyone!" as folks joined the room. The appearance of Marjie, via screen name "Abovethemall," brought chit-chat to a standstill (well, it was supposed to) as she called the online meeting to order. First on the agenda were general announcements: updates about conference specifics, times and dates of events, major donations, etc. Then, working the room alphabetically, she called on members for status updates. Volunteering their own brand of expertise to the effort, members reported on such tasks as DOUA/eBay Live logo creation, procurement of printing services, booth design and acquisition of supplies, creation of pamphlets and flyers, and obtaining tee shirts to be worn by booth volunteers.
For booth giveaways and prizes, Auction Ethics members donated DOUA items ordered from Cafe Shops. Some members kept the pace by donating other items for DOUA fundraising after the conference.
It took only four such meetings to before a comfortable pace allowed Marjie, with four weeks to spare, to set the team off in search of loose ends.
By Wednesday morning, the convention center was abuzz with staff members and construction crews, and a few booth exhibitors milled about tending early setup chores. The capable DOUA crew, again led by Marjie, donned orange arm bands and headed for area #1022 with tubs and boxes full of promo items pulled along on a cart. The colorful DOUA banner rolled out and a team of five had it hanging in minutes. Once the table wore its skirt and the brochures were arranged and accessible, we assembled in the Holiday Inn Select lounge to assemble and stuff the promotional bags to be given out to visitors the next day.
The convention opened at 4:00 PM on Thursday. I'm seeing it now: active, alive, and spirited. Folks visit the booth wanting to know more. Some want our help. Others want to help us. It's all here. It's all good. Each and every DOUA volunteer's effort carries its own significance to affect the booth spirit and synergy born of a team driven by determination, willingness, hope, and a heartfelt desire to offer a Helping Hand.
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