Publicis Health’s 10th Annual Philadelphia Community Service Day
By Jess Baar, Associate Copywriter, Digitas Health
“So many times in education we hear no. This has honestly been the first time I have heard yes.”
On the morning of Friday, August 9th, over 400 Publicis Health Philadelphia-based employees from Digitas Health, Publicis Health Media, Razorfish Health, and Verilogue agencies said “yes” to spending their 10th annual community service day at Clara Barton School. As the busses rolled in, faculty and staff welcomed the volunteers with open arms. For Kara Lorentson, Literacy Lead at the K–2 elementary school, the day had an extra impact. Kara knows first-hand how easy it is to say “no” to the call for support. So, seeing the hundreds of people willing to dedicate their time and talents to help her school was truly touching.
The biggest and most ambitious Community Service Day project to date started with a conversation between friends. Gia Pittaluga, an HR Manager at Digitas Health, was talking with Kara about her job at Clara Barton. They discussed the school’s mission — to use the entire school community to help develop eager learners and communicators — and it quickly became clear that there was potential for a perfect partnership. Len Dolce, Group CFO of Publicis Health, believes that finding the right partner makes all the difference, “When we look for our Community Service Day partner each year, we try to find an organization aligned with our own vision and mission, and look for opportunities that enable us to create long-term personal connections within our Philadelphia community. Clara Barton checked those boxes, and then some.” School Principal, Colleen Bowen, felt the same way and quickly became an instrumental part of the day’s the planning, as well as its biggest cheerleader.
Throughout the day, the Publicis Health team worked together to paint 3 floors of hallways; create 13 murals; hang 60 framed photos of the students throughout the building; repaint all of the black-top games; revamp the garden; and run a Community Carnival for the students and their families, faculty, and staff. However, the cherry on top of this year’s project is the brand-new playground, which is set to break ground at the end of September. The playground is a major accomplishment for all involved. It is both for the young students who haven’t had equipment to play on and for the school staff to continue their focus on growth and development outside of the classrooms.
As the projects wrapped up for the day, and the busses returned for the trip home, thank-you cards written by members of the Clara Barton school staff were handed out to the project leads. One note, written by Kara to Publicis Health’s Director of Philadelphia Facilities Steve Williams read, “I have dreamed of making my school (my home away from home) a beautiful place where our students can thrive. And now, because of you, we have it.”
This year’s Community Service Day wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of everyone involved. Especially the playground — a result of donations made across the Publicis Health agencies. “It’s because of the selfless, community-oriented people who make up our agencies that we were able to raise enough money to fund this very special gift,” said Brittany Hopkins, Publicis Health Philadelphia’s lead for Community Service.
Additional thanks go to our highly valued partners, who donated countless raffle prizes for our fundraisers, George Ely Associates and Playworld for the playground equipment at a special price, and the wonderful staff of Clara Barton for their endless and inspiring commitment to the children of the Feltonville community. One good day’s work is nothing compared to what they do each and every day, and we are so thankful to have played a part in their mission.
To watch a video highlighting Phildaelphia Community Service Day 2019, click here.
More about Clara Barton Elementary School:
Clara Barton School is a K–2 public elementary school in the Feltonville neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA. The mission of the Clara Barton School is to develop, with the help of the entire school community (teachers, students and parents) inquisitive learners who are eager to meet their potential, who effectively communicate, are responsible for their learning and are internally motivated to learn. This is done through the exploration of technology and the delivery of instruction with rigor and fidelity, while creating an environment that is safe, nurturing and offers opportunity for academic growth and positive social and emotional development. For more information, visit barton.philasd.org.