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Nonprofit Class Creating “Paw-fect” Day for Hospital Charity

Selah Pomeranitz ’18 is a general manager of sorts.

The Communication Studies major is the master scheduler in Cathryn Edelstein’s Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns class this spring, and it’s his job to make sure all his classmates—each with their own specific jobs and responsibilities—keep their work on track and on time.

There’s a baseball game—and a lot of sick kids and their families—counting on it.

Each spring, Edelstein’s class organizes a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, from conception to clean-up. This year, the students have organized a day at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, where the PawSox, the Boston Red Sox’s AAA team, play. Proceeds will go to The Tomorrow Fund, which provides financial and emotional support to children with cancer and their families being treated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.

“Everybody is so focused and wants this thing to succeed,” said Pomeranitz.

Previous fundraisers have taken the form of galas. But this year, Edelstein collaborated with Charles Steinberg, director of Emerson’s Sports Communication program and president of the Pawtucket Red Sox, on A Paw-fect Day for a Better Tomorrow, a daylong outing that offers food, baseball, history, and hope for families served by The Tomorrow Fund, one of the PawSox’s official charities.

A ticket ($15 for students; $25 for the general public) buys breakfast at the stadium; a game vs. the Gwinnett Stripers (the Atlanta Braves’ AAA team); a chance to enter a homerun derby; credits toward concessions for lunch; and a guided tour of McCoy’s Hall of History, which tells the early stories of former PawSox who went on to greatness in the Major Leagues.

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For students, transportation will be provided via chartered bus on a first-come, first-served basis.

“I’d like to fill two buses,” Edelstein said.

Every student in the class is in charge of one aspect of organizing or promoting the event: graphic design, social media, community relations, logistics, etc. Depending on their job, students are working with the PawSox front office, the Tomorrow Fund, or each other. Each week there is a check-in with Pomeranitz, who keeps an eye on the big picture.

Early on, Edelstein took a vanload of her students down to Providence to see where the money they help raise actually goes. They met with the executive director of The Tomorrow Fund and toured the fund’s clinic at Hasbro, to meet the families most directly benefitted.

It costs thousands of dollars per year to park at Hasbro every day, Edelstein said. The Tomorrow Fund gives them free parking. They give them meal tickets for the hospital’s cafeteria. If a family falls behind on bills due to their child’s treatments, the Tomorrow Fund helps out. Once a month, they provide free babysitting so a couple can take a break from the relentless strain of caring for a sick child and reconnect with each other on a date.

“It’s giving me shivers again [talking about what they do],” Edelstein said. “It’s honestly amazing.…I think for our students, it was incredible to see the impact.”

It’s also a tremendous learning opportunity for the students.

Tara Balan ’18 is one of four members of the project’s social media team, in charge of the Paw-fect Day Facebook page.

“Everything about the class is hands on, which I really love,” said Balan, a Theatre Studies major with a concentration in arts management. She said she’s learning how a social media campaign works in real time and will have a portfolio to show to prospective employers when she’s done.

Edelstein said this year’s fundraiser is a perfect example of “sports as soft power”: using sports to connect people and collaborate around a common goal. It’s also introducing students to a career path many may not have considered before.

“Every sports team has a charity that it works with,” she said. “A lot of people overlook the fact that that, in itself, is a career.”

Pomeranitz, the master scheduler for the project, said he would “absolutely love” to work in the nonprofit sector once he graduates. But until then, he just wants people to buy a ticket and make a difference for a family.

“There’s no excuse not to come and have a great time,” he said.

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