Traci DiStefano was a force of nature. A friend to many, her smile would light up a room. Wherever Traci went, fun and laughter followed. Traci was known for her contagiously positive spirit, love of life and was described by many as a true “wonder woman.” She had an expansive group of friends, many of whom she had known most of her life, who ranged from peers her own age to the children of her friends.
When Traci was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, her network of friends and family — “Traci’s Tribe” as she called them – rallied around her to help. She approached her treatments with optimism and her characteristic ability to see the beauty in life, even during the toughest times.
When Traci tragically lost her battle in 2019, she left a huge void in the lives of those who knew and loved her. Traci’s Tribe wanted honor her memory in a way that would be meaningful to her. Because of the excellent care Traci received at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, the Tribe decided to host a fundraiser to benefit the cancer center. The Kids Comfort for Cancer event would be a way to thank them for caring for Traci, and also to help others facing treatment.
A committee of eight was formed to begin making plans for their inaugural event. What made this committee unique is that it was comprised of four adults and four young teens, who shared equally in the responsibility for making sure all details were covered. The event co-chair was 14 year-old Casey Stone, daughter of CertaPro CEO Mike Stone.
Traci was one of Casey’s mother Kim’s dearest friends, and Traci was like an aunt to Casey. Although Casey has always demonstrated a caring for others, having held fundraisers for various causes for more than half her life, this event was even more special. Casey wanted to honor her friend’s legacy in the best possible way, creating an event that brought families together to celebrate Traci’s life and inspiring other kids to get involved in meaningful causes.
The event was held on the anniversary of Traci’s passing, at CertaPro’s new corporate headquarters in Audubon, PA. To keep with the family-friendly theme, event organizers planned a wide range of interactive activities such as corn hole, balloon art, a kids’ arts and crafts area, photo booth, ping pong, face painting and much more.
Leading up to the event, committee members hand made bracelets and colorful cancer awareness ribbons and assembled baskets to sell at the event. Attendees got to choose which cancer they wanted to represent at the event, making it even more meaningful to those whose lives have been touched by cancer. The committee also worked with local retailers, restaurants and service providers to donate items to be used for the raffle and silent auction. Cav’s Philly Tailgates generously donated all food and service staff for the event.
Special event speakers included an oncologist from Fox Chase and two cancer survivors whose shared their personal experiences. The committee set a fundraising goal of $15K, and when all was said and done, the event raised more than $50K. In addition to promoting the event on the Social Purpose event calendar, Casey was invited by local media to appear on news shows to raise awareness of the event, which she did with poise and grace.
When we spoke to Casey, she shared details of the important life skills she acquired through this process – time management, prioritization, agenda creation, goal setting, communication, public speaking and teamwork. She even deployed a post-survey to event attendees to determine what they liked best about the event and if there were any suggestions for the future.
When asked about her favorite memory of Traci, Casey shared a special moment. The Christmas Eve before Traci’s passing, Casey and her friends organized a group of 25 carolers for a surprise visit to Traci’s house where they sang some of her favorite carols. She was shocked and happy to see them, and overwhelmed by their kindness. It was another cherished memory of Traci that will live in their hearts forever.
Finding your Social Purpose can happen at any age, and getting kids involved is a great way to set them on a path of charitable service to others.
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Our team at @CertaPro Painters of Spokane, Washington painted @shrinershostpitalspokane! This is just one of the ways our team @CertaPro Painters has given back to the community! #CertaPro #paintingbetterlives #professionalpainters #newpaint #commercialpainting #paintingrefresh #firstserveothers #giveback #paintingservices #certaprogivesback #shrinershospital
Cesar P. is a painter and valued member of the CertaPro Painters of Duluth & Norcross team. In January, Cesar’s van, which contained all of his painting equipment and tools, was stolen while parked in front of his home. In an instant, he lost his livelihood and ability to provide for his family.
Franchise owner Bill Siegel generously provided a loan to help Cesar replace his van but his losses were much greater than a vehicle. In order to work, Cesar needed to replace the equipment and tools that were stolen, and this posed a significant financial hardship for him. Every day Cesar was out of work made it more difficult to provide for his family, pay his housing expenses and keep up with his bills.
Fortuitously, during the CertaPro Painters Conference in January, FirstService Brands CEO Charlie Chase spoke about the FirstService Relief Fund and how the grant program was established to help our people facing financial hardship. Cesar’s colleagues applied for the grant on his behalf and were delighted to learn his application had been approved and he would be receiving financial support to help him during his difficult time. The grant allowed Cesar to replace the stolen items and get back on his feet.
Today, Cesar is happy to be back to work and extremely grateful for the support of his colleagues at CertaPro who helped him, and for all of those in the FirstService family who contributed to the Relief Fund and made the grant possible for him.
“It is something very special when you are facing a difficult time and you are able to get help you need,” said Cesar. “I’m very lucky to work for a company that truly cares for its people. This made a big difference for me and my family and I cannot thank you enough.”
We encourage all employees to familiarize themselves with the Relief Fund. It’s helpful to understand the types of situations which may qualify someone for a grant, and also understand the guidelines of the Fund with respect to length of time one has following their “Qualified Event” to apply for a grant.
If you know someone who may need assistance, please direct them to www.firstservicerelief.com. If you are already contributing to the Fund through automatic payroll donations, thank you. If you haven’t set yours up yet, we encourage you to do so. Every dollar makes a difference and your support allows us to help Cesar and other colleagues whose lives have been turned upside down due to unexpected personal crises.
Looking for ideas on how to find your personal Social Purpose? Follow CertaPro Painters of Huntington Beach franchisee Pat Wade’s lead and identify a cause for which you have a passion, and then see where it takes you.
Following the loss of his beloved dog this summer, Pat, a lifelong dog lover, was inspired to make a donation to a local Labrador rescue. Through the rescue group he learned about Race For The Rescues, a 5K run / 1K dog walk and adoption day that raises funds for local animal rescues.
Race for the Rescues is sponsored by The Rescue Train a unique, 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill organization whose mission is to eliminate animal suffering and euthanasia through hands-on rescue work, dedication to spay/neuter, along with education and awareness programs. Funds raised through Race For The Rescues are used to help save the lives of homeless dogs, cats and horses and support their transition to forever homes where they will become cherished family members.
Now in its 13th year, Race For The Rescues is its largest annual fundraising event and has raised more than $4 million to help animals in need. 100% of its net proceeds support local animal non-profits. For the 9th straight year, Race For The Rescues has sent its adoption truck back to the shelter empty, with all of the adoptable pets having been placed in loving homes.
CertaPro Painters of Huntington Beach supported the event through a fundraising effort and a sponsorship that included a booth in the vendor area where the team enjoyed interacting with fellow animal lovers and introducing them to CertaPro’s services.
“Race For The Rescues is a great event for us,” said Pat Wade. “My wife and I are huge animal lovers, as are many of our team members, so to be able to give back to the community and meet other like-minded people was very rewarding.”
Pat and his family are continuing to #FirstServeOthers through fostering homeless dogs and have just welcomed foster pup Marley Mae into their home – another way they are following their passion and giving back to their community.