The COVID-19 pandemic created several challenges this past year especially for non-profit organizations who often rely on traditional annual in-person fundraisers to advance their mission in the community. Often those in-person events take the opportunity to recognize and honor local philanthropists and corporations who historically support their organization. Most organizations simply turned their traditional events into virtual events, but we knew we had to try something different.
We decided to turn our attention to the “good neighbors” who immediately responded to the critical needs of our community amidst a year of crisis and unrest. Driven by the theme “Good Neighbors Live Here,” we honored our region’s two largest healthcare providers – Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Lukes University Health Network, along with Second Harvest Food Bank. These non-profit organizations saved thousands of lives in our community.
We produced special video segments featuring our honorees along with other local heroes and they served as the centerpiece of a production which aired on PBS39 on May 25th while also being livestreamed on PBS39.org and on Facebook live. We announced on the broadcast the establishment of the Good Neighbor Fund to address the critical needs of our community by delivering educational programs and resources to children, parents and educators. The produced event included salutes from PBS national talent including Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the host of Finding Your Roots, Joan Lunden, host of Second Opinion, and Jim Cotter, host of Articulate. We leveraged social media, connecting with the followers of our honorees and we generated significant buzz and visibility building up to the broadcast with testimonials from community leaders and board members. We presented each of the honorees with framed “Red Sweaters” (the same cardigan version that Fred Rogers famously wore each episode) recognizing their contributions.
We were able to turn what otherwise would have been just another virtual event and turned it into a community-wide celebration. The success of the event was a testament to our theme “Good Neighbors Live Here.”