Chanda Misevis loves a good party.
But it was a combination of luck, timing and the Christmas spirit that turned her last shindig into something more than just a fun night out on the town.
Misevis, 36, came up with the idea to throw a relaxed holiday get-together for a good cause back in November. And, well, things just kind of snowballed from there.
It started when Misevis was chatting with her work neighbor, Tommy Espersen, who owns Choice Ultra Lounge. (Misevis is the owner of one Sweet Swedish Massage, which has an office on Market Street.)
“I kind of mentioned it would be nice to have a party, and he offered to donate the space for it,” Misevis explained before the event. “So I decided to do it as a benefit. I want to do some good out of it.”
Misevis explained that many of her massage clients attend St. Mary’s Church in Oneonta, and that she knew the church did a lot to give back to those in need. So she decided that to get in to her party, her guests would need to bring a donation of nonperishable food for the church’s food pantry.
“I was talking with Father Scott, and I asked him for a list of what they need, and he was like, ‘Whatever! We need everything!’,” Misevis recalled.
So the idea was born; now all Misevis needed was a little bit of help.
“I brought Kurtis (Breed) in on it — he’s my personal trainer — and my partner, Casady, has been working with Kurtis for over a year and just got his certification as a personal trainer,” Misevis explained. “And then Katie Miller does yoga through (Breed’s gym) Breed Fitness.”
So Misevis asked each of them to donate something, and they all gladly agreed. Everyone who came through the door with a donation would be entered to win something — a personal training session, a TRX class pack, a yoga session, a massage.
Then things started to get a little crazy.
“I invited my chiropractor Kathryn Mattson, and suddenly she’s donating two hour-long chiropractic sessions,” Misevis recalled. “And a woman by the name of Ellen Sokolow messaged me and asked if she could donate something as well.”
Word was spreading. And it didn’t stop there.
“I do a lot of work with Brewery Ommegang, and I was there doing a chair massage event, and they asked if they could donate so they gave us a gift box of beer!” Misevis said. “And this was really not my intention! I just thought Kurtis, Cass, Kate and I could do some health and well-being stuff — food, health, fitness — in kind of a sharing-and-caring, give-and-take package.”
But, in for a penny, in for a pound; Misevis couldn’t have been happier. And things just kept … happening.
“My mom is an amazing with food, so she’s making all the nosh — little desserts and finger food,” Misevis explained. “All of the prizes have been donated. Bonnie Monzeglio from Fox Hollow Nursery donated two Christmas trees donated by Fox Hollow Nursery, so I’m going to decorate them and I think I’m going to raffle off those too!”
And all that from just the simple idea of, “Let’s put together a party.”
And what about that part on the Facebook invite about wearing “your best workout gear”?
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” she said, “but I have had a dozen people telling me, ‘Waiit, it’s Friday night and I can come to your party in sweatpants? I’M SO THERE!’ So somehow it turned into a little bit of a costume party.”
But, of course, there is more to this event — much more — than just having a good time.
"Really, the point is, we want to raise as many food donations as possible,” Misevis explained. “Especially around the holidays, they really need donations.”
And the overwhelmingly positive response Misevis received for her idea is a sign, she thinks, that people are ready to step up and help out their neighbor, if given the opportunity.
“It’s not like I’m handing out free booze,” Misevis joked. “This is a good cause, and people feel like, ‘I want to participate, I want to donate.’”
And donate people did, indeed.
Misevis estimated that about 80 people came through to contribute.
“Several just dropped off food, passing by without even participating in the raffle, because they heard about it from Facebook or from a friend, but couldn’t stay for the party,” Misevis explained.
And in a particularly poignant note, Misevis said one young man brought three boxes full of food, saying that St. Mary’s had helped him when he was down and out, and he wanted to give back.
So by all measures, the 'Sharing is Caring' party was a roaring success.
"Your hard work definitely paid off!," Espersen wrote on Misevis' Facebook page after the event. "It was good to see so many faces old and new getting together for such a good cause and we look forward to making this become an annual event!"