Focus on non-profit organizations: Pavone Marketing Group and Caitlin’s Smiles
Why do you think it is important for your business to support nonprofit organizations in our region?
Throughout our three decades of working in Harrisburg, we have always known that providing pro bono marketing, messaging and volunteer hours for worthy causes was a key part of our business philosophy at Pavone Marketing Group. We are committed to supporting a variety of organizations in Central PA, and as we expand with offices outside of this area, that philosophy remains the same. It goes without saying that local businesses are made up of local people. And these people are the community of the region. When we share our expertise with worthy nonprofits, we all benefit.
Why do you support this particular nonprofit and what does your business do to benefit the organization?
In the case of Caitlin’s Smiles, we first heard about their founder’s mission nearly 16 years ago at an awards show. We were deeply touched by Caitlin’s story through Cheryl and her channeling of that experience into creating an organization that focuses on children in similar circumstances. Her commitment to these children and their families is evident as she strives to provide arts and crafts materials and activities that serve as both solace and distraction for them. Over time, our relationship and our commitment to the cause have both strengthened and broadened. We felt privileged to help touch so many lives. Anyone who has the opportunity to observe firsthand the joy this organization brings to children cannot help but share that joy. We created and maintained their website and provide editorial, social media, marketing and public relations assistance, and strategic direction for Caitlin’s Smiles. Our staff have served on their board and one of our partners is currently the chair. We attend and help out at all of their fundraising events, serve as kit-making volunteers, and help secure art supply donations.
Describe your organization and the importance of corporate support in advancing your mission.
Caitlin’s Smiles was founded in 2004 by Caitlin’s mother, Cheryl Hornung, in memory of her daughter Caitlin. Caitlin lost her battle with a brain tumor when she was 7 years old. Caitlin was diagnosed when she was 4 years old. For Caitlin, arts and crafts were a very positive distraction from her treatments and hospital stays. She spent her next 3½ years in four children’s hospitals in four different states for her surgeries, radiation therapy, chemo, stem cell transplant, and blood transfusions. In his memory, Caitlin’s Smiles has donated more than 2.2 million arts and crafts supplies to children in area hospitals, medical facilities and medical camps for 18 years. Powered by a group of passionate volunteers, Caitlin’s Smiles encourages children with serious medical conditions to explore their unique creative talents by participating in arts and crafts activities. While creating feelings of self-worth and instilling confidence in these children, the efforts ultimately put smiles on the faces of everyone involved. Caitlin’s Smiles depends on the support of local businesses to help bring smiles to children in hospitals and medical facilities. These companies help raise funds by creating and marketing special events, writing grants, collecting donations of supplies, donating expertise for website development and newsletters, volunteering time to work on special events and putting together kits, creating publications and giving general executive advice to the board.
For 2022, what is your greatest need?
The hospital can be an intimidating place for children. Add the presence of COVID to the mix, and it can be downright scary. COVID has changed the way pediatric units in medical facilities operate by limiting visitors, closing playrooms, and restricting art carts. Also, COVID has increased the needs of other facilities that we haven’t served much in the past. Now we need to provide more activities for children in behavioral health units and medically fragile children attending virtual medical summer camps. Our greatest need is for partnerships with companies. What we really need is for companies to fully partner with Caitlin’s Smiles, like Pavone did. We can use additional practical help to develop new fundraising ideas, writing grant applications and outreach projects. Additionally, providing reciprocal social media, attending events, and conducting supply/donation drives would help bring our mission to a wider audience. Although many companies offer these services, small and medium charities like ours cannot afford to pay for them, and we find it difficult to develop new ideas due to budget and time constraints. The contribution of new partners can help us make more hospitalized children smile.