Reunion Guide

Some helpful hints towards making your reunion successful


Reserve your venue as early as possible (a year in advance for the popular spots). If you need ideas, check other class homepages to see where they held their reunions.

Get a copy of the contact information for your class from the alumni database by contacting Harlan.
Decide how much you want to charge. This determines venue,food, entertainment, photographer, band, DJ, etc.

Decide whether to retain outside reunion organizer.
I recommend against this. I think the primary service theyoffer is tracking down classmates. The website largely eliminatesthe need to do this.

Do not accept payment at the door!
Require checks several weeks in advance of the reunion!
Most caterers and hotels require a headcount several weeks in advancealong with a cash deposit. It's not practical to accomodate last minute rsvps.

Recruit a core group interesting in doing the work.
Reunion meetings can be fun if you have a good group.
Face to face meetings are not really necessary if you makegood use of email, chat, IM.
All the folks on the reunion committee will probably attend,along with their friends, forming a core group of attendees.

Personally contact key people in the class and encourage themto attend. There are always "popular" folks who will "suck" thei rfriends along with them <g>.


Each time you receive an rsvp, copy your acknowledgement messageto the class group so that everyone knows who has rsvped. This helps build momentum.

Encourage classmates to submit bios. Reading bios of old classmatesencourages folks to attend.

Use the class mailing list frequently to remind classmates about the reunion.

Have early bird price to encourage early rsvp so you have a firm headcount

Keep the class homepage up to date with the latest rsvps.

When looking for venues, look at the other class homepages to seewhere they had their reunions. Get advice from reunion contacts from other classes.

Buffett dinners encourage mingling and are better than formal sitdown dinners.


Use PayPal to accept online payments. It's easier than writing a check so you are more likely to get paid.

Keep a cash reserve for the next reunion, as hotels require large cash depositsand you don't want the reunion committee to have to front the money.  If you do not have a reunion fund, have the committee members payin advance to generate an operating fund.

Don't worry too much about the menu. Minimize spending on food.Pasta instead of meat entrees. No one attends a reunion for the food.

Don't spend a lot on decorations, centerpieces.

For help locating lost classmates, see guide below.

When investigating venues, look out for hidden charges.

Minimize postage by relying on email and the website. After goingover the contact information, do emailing to find dead emails. Ask class to help find lost classmates. Once you have as much contactinformation as possible, do mailing to everyone with mailing addressbut no email address and ask for email address. Do second mailingof invitations only to those without email.

Get reunion checking account. Best to have multiple signatures to avoid money problems. Keep receipts.

Retain a photographer to take photos and produce a reunion memory book. Swentowsky Photography has produced the memory book for numerous Encina class reunions.

Going Beyond Google to Find a Lost Friend

Published: March 24, 2010

When I was 6 years old, I lost one of my best friends.  

Because of religious prejudices that neither of us understood, we were forbidden to play with each other. I never spoke to Russell again until a chance meeting at a trade show 25 years ago.

Last month, I wondered if I could find him.

Having no idea where he lived made the job even more difficult. No phone numbers or addresses were listed on various Internet directories. Because he had an uncommon last name, I was able to find what I thought could be his brother’s address in Staten Island. It was.

A few minutes later the phone rang, and Russell and I were reminiscing about our lives in late-1950s Queens. (Despite our pleasure at reconnecting, he preferred not to have his last name mentioned for this article.)

In the Internet era, finding a long-lost friend is relatively easy. But what happens when you want to find someone who flies under the digital radar, a low-key individual who leaves few traces to his or her existence on the Web?

Once only high-priced private investigators had the time and resources necessary to find those kinds of people, but if you understand the best strategies to substitute mouse clicks for shoe leather, the Internet makes the task fast, simple and often no-cost.

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM “First, ask yourself what you know about someone,” said David Sarokin, a federal government worker who, in his spare time, has extensively studied the best ways to find people online. (Many of his tips can be found on the Web site.)

Enter the person’s name in Google or another search engine, and use quotes to surround the first and last name; that way, the entire name is searched. If the person is in a phone book, often the phone entry will pop up as the first Google listing.

The task is easier if you’re looking for someone with a unique name; trying to find the Joe Smith with whom you attended high school 40 years ago is likely to be much more difficult than locating a first-grade pal named Joop Van Heineken.

Conversely, said Jim Adler, the chief privacy officer for Intelius, an online data firm, “If your name is Tom Cruise, you’ll be unfindable on the Web — unless you’re the famous Tom Cruise.”

ANY KNOWN ASSOCIATES? Search not just on names, but last-known places the person has lived. Do you know your friend’s profession? Enter names of professional journals for which he or she may have written. If you have an idea of a possible workplace, or a spouse’s name, search for those as well.

In addition to standard search engines, try affinity and social networking sites where your friend may have registered, like, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. claims a database of 20 million business contacts worldwide, with addresses, titles, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Two basic searches are included when registering, and more contact information is available on a pay-per-use or subscription basis. One contact costs $5, while subscriptions range in price from $25 a month to $1,000 a year.

If the person you’re looking for is politically active, the Federal Election Commission’s Web site ( lists the addresses, ZIP codes and occasionally even the occupations of those who have given $250 or more to a national campaign.

THE RAP SHEET lists criminal and traffic violation charges for no fee. While the amount of information you receive free is limited, the date of the court action could indicate that the person is still alive. You could also try a sex offenders database that many states have online. In addition to the offense, photographs and home addresses of the individual are often listed.

WHAT’S THAT MOLL’S NAME? Many of the search tips are only operative if you know an individual’s last name. Women who change their last names upon marriage can easily fall under the radar. (If you want to be found by long-lost friends, add your last name to your social network listing.) Intelius will begin adding maiden names to its database this year, gleaned from public records.

Mr. Sarokin also recommends perusing wedding notices on the Web sites of major newspapers. Not only will you get a geographical hint but, if you’re looking for a woman, you’ll be able to see what her married name might be.

WOULD CASH LOOSEN YOUR TONGUE? Many Web sites offer limited personal information free, like confirmation of an individual’s name, age, location and family members. To encourage you to pay, you’re enticed with the prospect of juicier information for a one-time or subscription fee.

Is it worth it to pay for personal information? “The pay sites are mostly unnecessary,” said Mr. Sarokin. “A lot of them are bogus and unreliable.”

But even those that are legitimate, like and, may disappoint. To get the most out of them, read their promises carefully. Private online databases typically don’t generate their own information, but rather aggregate public databases, combining home-purchase information, salary, marriages and divorces, traffic violations, relatives’ names and liens, judgments and bankruptcies.

Many say that they guarantee certain information, but that promise often adds qualifiers like “information included when available.”

The best sites use various algorithms to sort through data, eliminating errors and duplications. But mistakes are inevitable.

After searching through the database of Intelius, one of the largest providers of personal information, with 10 million paid customer accounts, I found that the listing for one relative included an address where she had never lived, listed a deceased member of her family as alive and had no record of her marriage.

If you don’t like the information you receive, demand your money back. The best sites offer refunds if a customer is not satisfied, but that fact is often buried deep within the site. Also, at some people search sites, like, you must sign up for an automatically renewing subscription.

YOU GOT HERE TOO LATE If you can’t find any current information about an individual there may be a simple reason: he or she may be dead.

To find out if that’s the case, several sites including and offer free access to the Social Security Death Index, a listing of more than 85 million deaths in the United States. also adds a database of published obituaries from hundreds of American newspapers.

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS The Web is also used to harass and even stalk former lovers or the rich and famous. If someone doesn’t want to make contact with you, drop it and move on.

If you want to shield yourself from prying eyes, many sites let you remove information; click on their “privacy” links to find out how.

But if this information resides on public or commercial databases, it’s likely to pop up on other Web sites. The best way to stay unfound is to keep your name out of public records, as movie stars do.

That’s why I’m not going to be meeting Will Smith any time soon. Even though I know what town he lives in, a $40 search did not turn up his address.


How to Find a Missing Friend or Family Member

by David Sarokin, eHow Member

Find a missing person with online help

I have a close family member who lives a, shall we say, somewhat Bohemian lifestyle. That is, we never quite know what she's doing with her life, or where she's living... working... visiting. It's actually not that unusual for people to lose touch with family and friends, no matter how close they may have been at one time.

If you want to find people who have 'gone missing', there are a lot of tools available that can help. This article will walk you through the steps and the resources for finding a missing person, starting with free online resources, then fee-based online search tools, and finally, professional services that can help you with your search.

Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1


Start with This meta-search engine specializes in scouring dozens of sources of online public information about people, and does a very good job of consolidating and presenting it in a neat fashion. Try a Pipl search on your own name to see what I mean... I bet you'll be impressed (and possibly, scared!) at the results.

Next try Google. Sounds obvious, I know, but don't overlook this simple -- and often, very effective -- search step. Google the person's name in a regular Google search, as well as in Google News (which covers news stories of the past month) and Google News Archives (for earlier coverage). There are some tricks for searching for people's names in Google (or any other search engine)... see the Resources to links for more information.

Next, try the online phonebook at sites like or Unlike phone books of old, which only contained listings for a single city, online phone books can cover entire states at a time, or even allow a search of the entire US in one fell swoop. A very powerful people-search tool indeed.

It pays to try specific searches at social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or Even though their content generally shows up in Google or Pipl searches, you may find something at these sites that the other search engines overlooked.

There are a number of free speciality searches which may be useful to you, depending on who you're looking for, and what sort of, er, adventures they may have in life. For instance, you can search for people who are in jail, or who may have a criminal record. People who donate money to political campaigns are also listed in online specialty databases. See the Resources section for links to comprehensive lists of the free people-search tools available.

Step 2


If the free search tools don't do the trick, then try some of fee-based search tools that are out there.

Intelius is a very comprehensive database of people finding information, and charges only a few dollars for a complete listing (again, see Resources for a direct link).

NewspaperArchive is a humongous source of newspapers, both recent and old, that can be easily searched for news of a missing friend or relative., despite its name, also has a very deep database of current information on people, and is another subscription source worth trying. See Resources for links. has, as far as I know, the largest and most current database of people in the working world. If your missing person works for a company (especially, a large company), then they may well be listed at Jigsaw. You can start your search there at no cost, though there's a small fee for retrieving a full listing.

ReferenceUSA also has a bazillion or so names in its very comprehensive database. This source, though, is best accessed through a library, many of which subscribe to the service, and allow library patrons to use it at no cost. Ask your local librarian for more information.

Step 3


Still drawing a blank?

A professional people-search firm can dig into resources like voter registration rolls, property records, court cases, and so on, that are hard for the uninitiated to get access to. is a good source for this type of work. also does some excellent people-finding work, though their policy prohibits proving information on living people, unless they are public figures, such as politicians or celebrities.

Of course, the most in-depth people-tracking work is done by private detectives, who can access both online and offline sources of information (and perhaps some old colleagues on the force!) in the process of tracking down a missing person. See Resources for links to good suggestions on hiring a private eye.



Here's some advice from Ann Landers for those attending reunions:

DEAR ANN LANDERS: I recently attended my 25th high school class reunion. I had a wonderful time, but I noticed a few people seemed uncomfortable, and their discomfort made others uncomfortable as well. I have compiled a list of DOs and DON'Ts for such events. With reunion time just around the corner, I hope you will print my "Reunion Rules" for others who may be feeling awkward about attending the festivities:

1. No whining or moaning over what "might have been," or anything else depressing. No one wants a pall cast over this happy event.

2. Seek out people who have made a difference in your life, and thank them. They will appreciate it.

3. Check your midlife crisis at the door. No one needs to know you are having an affair or that your spouse just left you.

4. Do not brush off anyone who wants to talk to you. It doesn't matter whether or not you liked that person in high school. We have all changed.

5. Bring an extra hankie, and cry all you want when you are overwhelmed by nostalgia and old friends. Tears can be a great catharsis.

6. All responses to questions should be at least two full sentences. Don't be abrupt. It will make you appear snobbish.

7. Don't do too much bragging. It puts a spotlight on your insecurities. The best compliments are the ones you get without fishing.

8. Any remarks about your baldness, weight or wrinkles should be countered with something humorous or self-deprecating. No offense is intended. Sometimes, when people are surprised at the change in the appearance of an old friend, they don't know how to deal with it, so they try to mask their surprise with humor.

9. Be careful how you approach others. Be respectful. Remember that you are dealing with someone's wife, husband, mother or father.

10. Be yourself. We remember you from way back, and will accept you the way you are.


Here's some helpful information for those who are arranging their class reunion.

If you have addition suggestions please write the Encina  webmaster.

Bob Goosmann 74 wrote:
The most important first step is putting together a committee of 4-7 alumni who are interested in doing the work. Fortunately, Class of '74 has a great committee and we are actually having riotous fun at our meetings.

Step two is to settle on a date and a location--the earlier this is done the better. Some of the more popular places are reserved many months in advance.  If you don't have a "reunion fund" (we didn't), everyone has to front some money for the deposit, which is usually around $500.00.

Then, simply divide up what needs to be done (invitation list and mailing, DJ, activities/awards, invitation design, web site updates, photographer, etc. etc.).

Be sure to personalize the event as much as possible with music from the appropriate years, perhaps displays of old photos, mementos with the Apache (Bulldog?!) logo, etc.

I also highly recommend a buffet dinner with various stations rather than a standard sit-down dinner; the goal is to create a fluid event that encourages everyone to mingle.

Finally, make sure your committee is comprised of slightly deranged alumni who enjoyed drinking adult beverages and gossiping about their former classmates--this, of course, is the real appeal of being on the committee.


In researching hotels for our upcoming reunion, I found quite a difference between various locations. The Holiday Inn and Doubletree both had a lot of peripheral charges (room fee, staffing fee, etc.); the Hilton didn't have a room available that was big enough for us. Arden Hills country club is a beautiful location and their prices are reasonable, but you have to make a reservation many months in advance (my sister just coordinated Rio Americano's 20-year reunion there, and she said it went great).

Red Lion Sacramento Inn, where we are having our 25-year, was by far the best deal that I found. We're only paying for the catered meal--the room, staffing and decorations are all included at no charge. It's also a nice central location.

All hotels require a deposit well in advance--usually in the neighborhood of $500.00.


Ridgley Sheldon 68 wrote:

The first thing that any reunion committee needs to decide, is when they want their reunion and what type of theme they would like.

For example:
A simple bar-b-q
A picnic
A dance
A dinner
any combination of the above or different.

Then they need to anticipate the participation.

The older the reunion the less people usually.

Then you have to figure how much the committee wants to have each person money, $10.00 or $50.00 or $75.00 etc.

this will give them a base to start with.

It is best to have one person then contact the potential sites that have been talked about amongst the group. You should have a bout 5 or 6 possible sites. In Sacramento their are many conventions and meetings going on all the time. Finding a ballroom or large dinner dance space is sometimes hard depending on the time of year.

Dance spaces run abour $500 to $1,000.
Dinners can be anywhere from $15.00 to $100 a person.
Decorations depend on the group
Beverages can be included with cost.

These are all issues that need to be addressed before the person contacts the various Hotels, Restaurants ,etc.

The Encina class of 68 decided we did not want to charge over $60.00 per person or $100.00 for two
so, We figured the cost of our decorations and approximated about $25.00 to $30.00 per person for dinner
we then added the cost for mailings and administrative cost.
We made our own decorations and purchased the material wholesale
We had a few fun get togethers where we all cut and put together flowers.
this kept cost down

We decided not to go to a professional reunion organization.
Because we could put on an outstanding event for less.

To get the Capital to begin with and to do the first mailings....the ten committee members all put in their payment first. This gave us operating capitol. So, we had over $600.00 to start with.

When the calls are made to the Hotels, you ask for the Sales department.
Then ask for the sales manager. Then tell them the dates you prefer, and the anticipated number of people. (At least 1/2 of the class to begin with.  Remember if only a 1/4 show up but bring spouses or dates that will be close to half the class size, if there was a ten year reunion, see how many people came to that...that should give a better idea.

I will be more than Happy to help any one do this. It is easy, and it can sure make the difference between a dull reunion and a really nice one.

Most all Hotels Sales department have a 8 1/2 by 11 Folder they will send to the Chairperson or organizer listing various menu plans, and room rental fees.

Sometimes a successful class mate might want to donate or contribute to the event. Provide the music or pay for a portion of something.  These are all areas to look at.

First you need to figure out exactly at the moment how many realistic dependable volunteers you have!

If you have at least two you can do all kinds of things without alot of money to start.

You can also call Heddy at Encina who is the community service liason and she will give you a list of any othe interested class members who have contacted her, if any. Then give her your name and tell her you are trying to get a committee going and that any interested people can contact you.

Set a date for a committee meeting in a location that is central. If you live near Sacramento that is good. Somewhere near Highway 80 or I-5 or 50 so that it is easily accessible by all. A Saturday is a good day because most people are off on a Saturday. Tell Heddy the date and do a phone chain if you still are in touch with a few people from your graduating class. Have Harlan announce the date on the Encina Newsletter here on the email and on the website.

You can also ask him about web soft ware and he can tell you how to set up your   classes web site.

when you have a small group (which is actually better, less conflicts) formulate your committee. If there are only two of you...Then go from there. If you can get 3 or 4 or 5 then you can elect officers. Chairperson, or co-chairpeople, a treasurer and some one to record minutes. Make sure that the treasurer though also has a committee that he or she reports too. Three people on that committe is fine. Make sure you record all minutes of each meeting. No money transactions without any documentation to explain why money was spent, WHO AUTHORIZED IT, and when. Triple or double signatures should be required if you set up a checking account.

Back to where do we get the money..

First you need to plan..............what you want to do.

1. Simple picnic..........potluck

2. Spagetti Dinner

3. Bar-B-Q

4. Dinner & Dance

5. Cruise

These are just examples.

Now if it is just a simple pot luck, then you only need to notify people, and assign menu items and utensils and a place to hold it. want a more exciting event...........Then you need to decide how exciting.

Say a dinner then where, and what type of event, casual, cocktail attire or formal.

Then, figure out how many people in your class. Figure that usually only about 1/4 will attend. Add on 2/3 will bring a date or spouse. Then figure how much each dinner will cost.

When you decide where you want to host the event....then you need to call them and ask them what they charge for a reunion dinner for say 200 or 300 people. If this is just a 10 year reunion your attrition rate (deaths) will be less, so you could have a pretty good attendance.

So, for example. Call the Sacramento Inn ask them for the sales/catering/convention office. Then when they answer tell them you are on the reunion committee from Encina class of 1990 and that  you are planning your reunion for ............and be sure to have a number  of alternative dates because they are probably booked at least 6 months ahead of time.

Tell them you would like them to send you some menu plans and costs for dinners, banquet facilities and rooms.

They will send this to you quickly and then you will have some idea of the cost per person for a dinner. Call a number of different places, hotel etc to get bids.

A good chicken dinner: Baked chicken, rice, vegetable, with salad and roll and  a simple desert can be between low price $20.00 to high price $30.00 per person.

This does not include mailing cost for invitations, or for printing invitations or for a lot of miscellaneous items. Decorations cost also and if you want music.

Now. Saw you want a balloon arch they are about $200.
Music d.j.'s are about $500. or more for a night.
Mailing to 800 people is $.37 per envelop.
Total up approximate cost and divide by the least number of people  that will attend, a low number would be 100. Figure out how much you need to break even.

That is how you start figuring out your cost. Then you send a letter to the newspapers around the Sacarmento area, Stockton, Modesto and Lodi, Fairfield and announce your second meeting.

Press Release:


Contact Person:

Subject: Encina Class of 1990
Reunion Committee will be hosting a meeting on
All interested class members who would like to help coordinate the reunion are invited to attend.
Please r.s. v. P

Send Heddy a copy and hope for more members. say that to have music and do decorations(and other expenses) you figure the cost will be about 800 divide that by 100 people  and that is only $8. then add that to your dinner cost.
dinner $27.99
Music 8.00
Misc business
expenses 5.00
Facility fee 5.00
$45.00 per person

Now if you book with a convention center or a hotel.
If you book now for something in October, you don't have to pay until usually a month to 2 weeks before. Thay would give you 5 month to send out mailers. You should do a number of mailings.

One at first just to let people know you are planning a reunion. To find out who is interested. Tell them the date, where it will be and the approximated cost but tell them that this is subjec to refinement as the committee gets more organized.

SEcond mailer is a form to ask people to hunt and search for other class members. We requested  that alumni not only list their information but any
information regarding any friends or relatives. this was very helpful and then we were able to track down a lot of people.

The third is the invitation to the event with a reservation card....the cost and a return request.

The fourth is the week before the event to remind people and again get the word out at the last minute.

For free you can do community service announcements in the paper, and on certain radio stations you just have to call them and ask what their procedure is.

Once you start collecting money you need to have a specific non profit checking account. A list of officers and...........board minutes.

Always cover your self and the committee' actions even if there are only one or two of you make joint decisions, you don't want it to be Suzy Smith's reunion you want it to be a reunion that everyone can enjoy.

It is workable.
It takes time and patience
It is so much cheaper to do without the help of a reunion party business they charge an arm and a leg.

We held our reunion at the Del Paso Country Club. We had a full buffett dinner with chicken skewers, Prime Rib carving station, fruit salads, green salads, pastas, three deserts and a bar.

We had music, dancing, raffles and a lot of fun. We had 275 people for our 30 year reunion that is pretty good. It was a wonder ful time.

You can do something like that, or more or less.

Last updated: 03/13/2014

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