Why do you feel it’s important for your business to support our area’s nonprofits?
Throughout our three decades of work in Harrisburg, we’ve 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’ve been committed to supporting a variety of organizations in Central PA, and as we expand with office locations outside of this area, that philosophy remains the same. It goes without saying that local businesses are made up of local people. And those people are the area’s community. 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 of their founder’s mission nearly 16 years ago while attending an awards show. We were deeply moved by Cheryl’s story of Caitlin and her channeling of that experience into the creation of an organization that is focused on children in the same circumstances. Her commitment to those children and their families is evident as she works to provide arts and crafts materials and activities that serve as both a comfort and a distraction to them. Over time, our relationship and commitment to the cause has both strengthened and broadened. We’ve felt privileged to help touch so many lives. Anyone who has the opportunity to observe first-hand the joy this organization brings to children can’t help but share in that joy. We created and maintain their website and provide copywriting, social media, marketing and PR support, and strategic direction for Caitlin’s Smiles. Our staff has served on their board, and one of our partners currently serves as its president. We attend and assist with all of their fundraising events, serve as kit-making volunteers, and help secure donations of art supplies.
Describe your organization and the importance of corporate support to further your mission.
Caitlin’s Smiles was founded in 2004 by Caitlin’s mom, Cheryl Hornung, in memory of her daughter Caitlin. Caitlin lost her battle to a brain tumor at the age of 7. Caitlin was diagnosed at 4 years old. For Caitlin, arts and crafts were a very positive distraction from her hospital treatments and stays. She spent her next 3½ years in four children’s hospitals in four different states for her surgeries, radiation, chemo, stem cell transplant and blood transfusions. In her memory, Caitlin’s Smiles has donated over 2.2 million arts and craft supplies to children in area hospitals, medical facilities and medical camps over 18 years. Powered by a passionate group of volunteers, Caitlin’s Smiles encourages children with serious health challenges to explore their uniquely creative talents by taking part in arts and craft 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 spread smiles to children in hospitals and medical facilities. These corporations help raise funds through creating and marketing special events, writing grants, collecting donations of supplies, donating expertise to website development and newsletters, volunteering time to work special events and assemble kits, creating publications and giving overall executive guidance on 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 that pediatric units in medical facilities function by limiting visitors, shuttering playrooms and restricting art carts. Plus, COVID has increased the needs of other facilities that we have not served much in the past. Now, there is a need for us to provide more of our activities to kids in behavioral health units and to medically fragile children who attend virtual medical summer camps. Our greatest need is for corporate partnerships. What we really need is for corporations to fully partner with Caitlin’s Smiles, as Pavone has done. We can use additional hands on help with developing new fundraising ideas, grant writing and outreach projects. Additionally, providing reciprocal social media, event participation and conducting supply drives/donations would help in spreading the word about our mission to a larger audience. While there are many businesses that offer these services, small to medium-sized charities like ours cannot afford to pay for them, and we struggle to develop new ideas due to budget and time constraints. Input from new partners can help us spread smiles to more hospitalized children.