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Business Community Engagement Key for Gloria Gemma Foundation’s Success:

Dec 12th 2012


The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation has a successful eight-year track record of providing free breast cancer and breast health support, programs, and education to Rhode Islanders.

The Pawtucket-based nonprofit has consistently forged enduring relationships with the local business community and has empowered companies—large, small, and everything in between—to be proactive when it comes to social responsibility.

“We are learning that both consumers and employees want companies to do more,” said Foundation Executive Director Maria Gemma. “Our goal is to not just build up our list of partners, but to develop ways to better engage them.”

“With our small team of only seven employees, we are grateful for businesses that have stepped up to the plate and offered not only generous financial support, but their ideas, time, and energy,” Gemma continued.

National Grid is one such example. The Foundation recently collaborated with the energy provider to launch a pink-based compact fluorescent light bulb and will receive a portion of sales.

“We enjoyed the experience of working collaboratively with National Grid to design and implement a successful campaign,” Foundation Director of Development Calvino said. “Simply stated, National Grid gets it.”

Other companies that “get it” include two local jewelers that designed and introduced products to benefit the Foundation—Cranston-based Alex and Ani introduced two charm bracelets in 2011, and Warwick-based Baxter’s Fine Jewelry introduced two pins and a necklace as part of their limited edition collection.

The Foundation has also allied with companies in their hometown. For six years, Pawtucket’s ARS Restoration Specialists has provided operational and event sponsorship support.

Restaurants and food establishments have also teamed up with the Foundation. Panera Bread featured a pink ribbon bagel in October while Gregg’s Restaurants and Pubs hosted “Cake For A Cure” to benefit the Foundation.

Business sector collaboration has also positively impacted the Foundation’s programming and delivery of services.

“We have divided the state into ‘service areas’ to offer the highest possible quality of customized services and efficient delivery,” said Calvino. “We’re currently utilizing generous support from Taco/The White Family Foundation to implement a year-long effort in our Cranston service area.”

The Foundation has also experienced success with engaging small businesses from different sectors.

In June, Hattoy’s Nursery & Garden Center worked with the Foundation to offer a breast cancer awareness day at their Coventry location. During the last Saturday of every month, Shri Studio in Pawtucket offers free workshops to breast cancer survivors. The Foundation has also established a budding relationship with Warwick’s Heavenly Hugs, a small private practice in Warwick that offers free reiki classes to survivors.

Whole Foods Market University Heights Marketing Team Leader Bonnie Combs provides an example of returns on investment for businesses that partner with the Foundation.

“With our quarterly 5% Days, we donate five percent of the day’s net sales to local non-profit organizations,” she explained. “Shoppers are provided with an extra incentive of knowing that their purchases are going to support the local community.”

The most recent 5% Day that took place earlier this month at all three Rhode Island stores raised $12,104.34 for the Foundation.

“No business is too big to partner with us,” said Calvino.

“Yes,” agreed Gemma. “But no business is too small either.”

For more information on partnership opportunities, please contact Director of Development Gary Calvino at 401-861-4376 or via email at