SANCAFEST Spotlight: Beth Baker

When it comes to being a top banana in SANCAFEST, SANCA’s new Board Member and longtime student, Beth Baker, sure knows a thing or two! She has been a student since the very early days in the fly tent, and Beth is consistently one of our top SANCAFEST participants, raising $1,000 every year for the youth scholarship fund.

I feel that my success in fundraising is due to persistence. I post on Facebook often, and give my Facebook friends and family interesting tidbits about where and how their donations help at SANCA. I like to send out reminder emails as well. I target those who have donated in previous years, and also try to expand my email list with new possible donors every year. If it is coming down to the wire, a simple giveaway, like a favorite recipe, can help. It can aid in making the decision for those donors on the fence. Lastly, posting fun videos, GIFs, or pictures periodically, with your donation link, show your Facebook community what you do at SANCA and gives them an idea of what they are helping support. Personalization is key!

Beth, do you remember how you first heard about SANCA?

On Living Social actually, back when that was popular. I moved to the Seattle area, from upstate New York, in the summer of 2005 after my husband and I had both graduated college. I didn’t know anyone out here, and most of my new coworkers were much older than I was, so it wasn’t easy to make friends.

Back in high school, I used to dance, do musical theatre, and color guard. I had mentioned to my husband about wanting to get back into a creative activity like that. He came across a two-hour flying trapeze class on Living Social, and thought it might be the perfect fit for me. I brought a friend with me to my first class, but she got too freaked out to try it. She did the warm up but wouldn’t climb up to the platform. I was scared to death the whole time, but pushed myself, thought it was fun, and couldn’t wait to try it again.

It was about six months later when I returned with a different friend, and she loved it as much as I did. We came back together monthly until we got into harder tricks, and then started coming twice a month because we needed more practice.

Eventually, she couldn’t come as often, so I had to step out of my comfort zone enough to say, ‘Ok, I love doing this, I’m just going to come by myself,’ and slowly started meeting people in the tent and making friends with other regular flyers.

Then I began taking classes inside, starting with trampoline class, which I totally hated. After that, I found the aerial program and took classes with Coach Alyssa for static trapeze, and I’ve been doing that for about six years (minus two hiatuses to have my kids).

What is it you like about flying?

Flying Trapeze is really about getting out of your comfort zone, embracing the fear, and challenging yourself. Once you finally get comfortable with a trick or skill, you switch it up to learn something new, and have to go through the whole getting comfortable and confident process all over again. It’s a new experience every single class.

I’ve never been an athletic person. I love the work out and mental and physical challenges of wanting to be better at something. The community we have in the fly tent is really encouraging. We push each other to do our best and to do the things that scare us when it comes to flying.

One of the first circuses I ever went to was Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus, when I was six or seven. It was such a great spectacle to witness. It’s something that you have a hard time wrapping your mind around, where do people go to learn all of these amazing things? It’s so great to see how recreational circus has exploded in the last few years and how more and more people can run away with the circus in their own way. It’s such a cool, unique, and different activity to be a part of. It’s very exhilarating, and it’s very challenging in the best ways.

Now that you are a mom, have you done any baby and me classes?

Beth & her son Jett Baker

When my older son, Jett, turned two I couldn’t wait to start taking him to the baby and me classes. We did that class together for almost a year. Now, he’s graduated to Tot Circus 1 and has been in that class for almost a year. As soon as Bennett, my younger son, turns 2 we’ll start taking the baby and me classes together. I’m so excited to share SANCA and all the circus fun with both my boys.

Jett is also dying to try Flying Trapeze. When he turns four in November, I’ll be taking him to the fly tent for Pay-Per-Flight so he can get started!

What do you hope your sons will get out of taking circus classes?

Right now? Patience and listening. Jett, compared to his younger brother, is my wild child. Bennett is so easy going and chill. With Jett, it’s about harnessing all this exuberant energy he has. It is my hope that directing his enthusiasm into a movement based, creative, and challenging activity will turn into something positive for him as he grows.

It’s great to be able to expose them to classmates and coaches from all different backgrounds and lifestyles. It’s this kind of positive exposure that all our children need to grow up to be kind, respectful, and loving human beings.

I also love that I am able to introduce them to the arts at a young age. As an graphic artist myself, I like giving them the opportunity to try out different creative avenues and find different ways to move their bodies and express themselves.

It is my hope, that they will want to stick with circus as they grow, and that they find their niche and passion in it.

What drew you to want to be on SANCA’s board? Are you on any other boards?

This is the first time I’ve ever been on an executive board, though I’ve been involved with other non-profits, in the past, as an active volunteer. In college, I was also in a co-ed, national honor fraternity where we volunteered with our college, non-profits, and local community.

I love how inclusive SANCA is. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your background or ability is, there is always something you can do or try. It’s a very creative and social environment, whether you’re a kid or an adult. I also appreciate all of the ebc and outreach programs that work with youth with different abilities. I know so many parents who have kids on the spectrum and are differently abled that could/would benefit from the programs and coaches here.

For me, as a work at home mom, I come to SANCA by myself to have my personal time, away from kids, a few hours a week. It’s my outlet, my relaxing time; I choose to be here and to be involved in any way I can.

So, how does she do it? Check Out Beth’s Recipe for SANCAFEST Success:

  1. If you have participated in SANCAFEST in the past, the best way to begin a new SANCAFEST fundraiser is to reach out with periodic targeted emails to donors who have given before.
    Share ongoing information about the impact of their gift and what it means to you.
  2. Offer to give away something simple. (You could do a recipe like Beth’s example, or even offer to do a trick. Coach Faye last year offered to sing any song of the donor’s choice while upside down and Programs Assistant Veronica has offered to try any apparatus of the donor’s choice).
  3. Make it fun! Share fun GIFs, videos, and pictures. You can even live stream your a-thon events and people can donate directly to your live stream!
  4. Be sure to thank your donors! Giving a public Facebook shoutout not only is a nice thing to do, but it will also give your donors warm, fuzzy feelings so they will be more likely to donate to you and SANCA again in the future.
  5. You can check out Beth’s Facebook fundraising page here.

Thanks, Beth, we’re so happy that you are a part of our circus!