The Lovely Mrs. Matthews (TLMM) and I were the guests of the always generous Debe Williams at the MAYC auction last Saturday night. Once MAYC knew we were coming the week before, they were relentless in making sure we had ample opportunity to review and bid on silent auction items through a series of texts. We thumbed through them at lunch each day and marveled at how many items folks had donated. I’m looking for gadgets; TLMM is looking for experiences. There were many of the latter, few of the former.

MAYC is one of those community organizations that has widespread support. It touches hundreds of families year round through its afterschool and summer programs. At one time this may have been a program for disadvantaged young people, but today it offers a wide tent to all of Mahomet. A worthy cause if ever there was one.

A very nice lady sat next to me for dinner Saturday night. She is actually a neighbor of the real Matthews in Mahomet, Gary and Trudy, once described in the Mahomet Citizen as Relentless Volunteers. I’m not relentless. She said that the afterschool program was a godsend for their family and for every family needful of two incomes. We talked about how the model of a household built on a working man and mom at home was only viable in the history of the United States for one or two generations in the late twentieth century. Kudos to Mahomet for having found a way to support women who choose to work outside the home while providing children with the opportunity to grow in many different directions.

For years this event was held on a family’s farm in their barn. This year there is a new director of MAYC and the event moved from June to February and from the farm to the I Hotel and Conference Center. This was not done by the command of the new director, Sara Balgoyen, but because the event seems to have outgrown the farm. We were 10 sitting at table 19, so I can say with some confidence that there were hundreds of people in attendance. This was my first time. Here is my first impression. When you walk in the door the first thing you notice is that everything is up for auction. You check in and they take a credit card number to “facilitate” bidding and then you are given a paddle with a number. Ours was 183. There are many opportunities to hold up a paddle at a MAYC Auction. After all, that’s what we are there for.

My first surprise was that beer and wine were complimentary thanks to the generosity of our hostess, Ms. Williams. Since she and I are both wine aficionados, this was a good thing. My first action once I was inside the ballroom was to find a wandering waitperson who carried glasses of wine on a tray. I took two, one for me and one for TLMM. This all made sense to me. People who are liquored up will spend more liberally on auction items. It isn’t rocket science.

The theme of the event was “Hats off to MAYC.” We were all invited to wear hats for the evening. TLMM chose her Pussy Hat from 2017’s March on Washington. She was afraid she was treading into hostile territory, but all of the ladies at our table loved it. Yours truly wore his high top hat. There are two sizes of top hat. I met a guy in the lavatory who wore a real nice short stack with a rose attached. It was a fine hat. Myself, I prefer the Abe Lincoln special. I find I can carry a lot more junk under it for one thing. They even had a hat contest during the evening. The criteria were never explained. It appeared that knowing the judges helped. No one at our table made the cut. Our friend Cindy wore at least six hats at once. Apparently that was not weird enough.

There was a dessert auction where a box of brownies went for $900. Do I even need to mention that our table went without dessert? There was a Hats or Tails game that depended on a coin flip. If you chose poorly and went out, you could buy back in for $10. Once again we learned that people with money can’t lose in America. The man who won the prize, six nights and seven days stay anywhere in the world, turned the prize back to be auctioned off. I think it eventually went for $5,000. That’s more than I paid for the Hyundai. I was clearly out of my league.

I turned to the silent auction on my phone since the live auction items were far beyond the means of a retired French professor. TLMM loves her morning coffee, so I bid on a large box of coffee. I finally had to pay the maximum of $130 to get the coffee, but TLMM is happy and there can’t be too much of that.

Though I felt at times like an interloper, I was happy to see so much financial support for such a good cause. A community that invests in its children to this extent is a wise community that can be such a blessing to our region and our state. Hats off, indeed.