Sometimes It Only Takes a Smile

Colleagues know how important my nonprofit Win-Win Entertainment is to me! I’m always talking and posting about Win-Win and the work we do to bring smiles to children in hospitals by arranging visits (VIRTUAL visits for the time being) from professional entertainers, athletes and celebrities.

I recently wrote a cover letter for a grant submission for Win-Win Entertainment, and I thought it was worth posting as a snapshot of where the organization is, and where we are headed. I also think it’s a great reminder of the power of a smile. Enjoy, friends 🙂

Sometimes it only takes a smile. A few years ago, our Founder & Chairman Jeff Civillico was participating in our program at Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas, going room-to-room and providing bedside entertainment as our performers have done every week for children’s hospitals all over the country pre-Covid.

On this particular visit, Jeff entered a quiet room with a child patient and his grandfather. Jeff introduced himself and Win-Win Entertainment as an organization that provides professional entertainment for hospitals, and asked if they would like to see a show! Jeff broke the ice by balancing the grandfather’s baseball cap on his nose. Over the next 20 minutes, Jeff spent more time with them talking, joking, and performing various juggling and balancing tricks. By the time Jeff left, the tone in the room had completely changed– both were now smiling, laughing, clapping and engaging with him and each other.

Jeff gave them complimentary tickets to his all-ages show at The Flamingo, inviting them to be his VIP guests once released from the hospital. Several months later, Jeff recognized two people waiting back at the very end of his “meet and greet” line after the show. The grandson was now jumping around, proudly showing Jeff the progress he had made learning to balance the baseball cap on his nose. And with tears in his eyes, the grandfather thanked Jeff for the hospital visit many months back, and for the show tickets. He told Jeff that looking back on their hospital stay, he could now say that Jeff’s visit was a turning point for his grandson. His grandson’s spirits were lifted that day. He had something to look forward to with coming to the show. He even started eating better… all because an entertainer shared his time and talent.

Stories of impact like this are not unique for Win-Win Entertainment; they are the norm. Based on the heartfelt thank you messages from parents and staff we are continuously receiving, there seems to be at least one truly magical moment during every Win-Win Entertainment visit. Lifting the spirits and boosting the morale of children in hospitals across the country is what we do– day in and day out.

Win-Win Entertainment is a 501c3 national nonprofit organization founded in 2012 by Las Vegas Headliner Jeff Civillico, that brings smiles to children in hospitals by arranging in-person and virtual visits from professional entertainers, athletes, and celebrities. Win-Win Entertainment currently has 25+ programs in 12 cities across the country (Charleston, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, Reno, San Diego).

Like so many organizations, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to re-examine our operations. When in-person hospital visits no longer became an option, we saw the additional strain our hospital partners were under, and we knew that our Win-Win Entertainment performances were needed now more than ever!

We looked at our mission and realized that at the end of the day our organization is not so much about the entertainers, as it is about the smiles our entertainers bring to the children we serve. We realized we could still deliver those smiles, even during a pandemic. We pivoted fast and hard to begin providing virtual visits to our hospital programs over platforms like Zoom and WebEx. The response from both hospitals and performers was extraordinary.

During a time when so many nonprofits understandably struggled to keep the doors open, Win-Win Entertainment not only survived but thrived. During the past year, we doubled our impact by doubling both the number of hospitals we serve and the number of volunteer performers. Our hospital partners are so grateful. We now know that we don’t just have a temporary fix to a temporary problem with these virtual visits– we have a new way of reaching more children than we ever thought possible. We have an additional operational model that will remain in place even after the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us.

To ensure the health and safety of our performer volunteers, our board has made the decision to provide virtual visits exclusively through 2021. We plan on resuming our regular in-person visits, where safe and appropriate, in 2022. Moving forward we will have two ways to reach children in hospitals, depending on where the hospital is located and where the performers are located.

With these increased operations come increased costs and expenses. As our talent base and the number of our hospital partners continue to grow, we remain a 100% volunteer organization with no paid staff.

We rely on the generosity of our supporters and sponsors to cover our operational costs as we continue to develop and expand our reach. Every dollar raised helps us put another smile on another child’s face. As we establish more programs in more hospitals, our insurance premiums will continue to increase.

We also require all performers and volunteers to undergo background checks. These two expenses alone are necessary but costly. In addition, our continued growth will require development of a more sophisticated web platform and eventually the hiring of an Executive Director.

We respectfully request a grant to bring more smiles to more children across the country. We are entering a key phase in our organization’s development. We have mastered virtual visits, and now will be taking on the challenge of resuming and growing our in-person visits in a post-Covid world while maintaining and growing our virtual programming.

We need additional support and resources. In 10 years we have touched 65,000+ lives to date, and we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. Y our support would go a long way in doubling or even tripling that number in the next year or two. At this point, our impact is only limited by our bandwidth and our resources. With increased financial support, the impact we can have on children in hospitals everywhere is truly limitless. We’ve built the network, we’ve seen the impact. Now we want to turn on the gas!

Thank you so much for your consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (702) 743-6376 or email us at m akeadifference@winwinentertainment.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,

Win-Win Entertainment Board of Directors

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