Jen Coffel is the co-founder of Handing H.O.P.E. Jen is responsible for the vision, strategy, and national fundraising efforts for Handing H.O.P.E and the Lollipop Tree Project as it expands across the country.
As an author and speaker, she has been featured and recognized on ABC News and the Chicago Tribune for her work helping others. Her innovative and down to earth style sets her audience at ease and empowers them to receive her message of wellness.
Jen has over a decade of experience in the wellness industry and a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Illinois at Chicago.
Kim Bavilacqua is the co-founder of Handing H.O.P.E. As a cancer survivor she knows the battle these children face. The lollipop tree allows her to bring hope and smiles to these children!
With a Bachelors in Social Work, Kim has been teaching wellness for 10 years. As a co-author of the awareness program, The No Toxin Zone, Kim is able to share her passion for helping others by teaching them to be proactive about their own health through prevention and education.
A “master planner,” Kim’s expertise is in organizing and implementing corporate events and wellness workshops. Her humor and zest for life shines through as she shares the message of HOPE!
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Both of us are no strangers to cancer and the impact it has on families. Kim is a cancer survivor, and I (Jen) have suffered the loss of my mom, dad, and best friend all to cancer. We just could not sit by and watch families suffer without trying to do something. Handing H.O.P.E. is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded as a way to help, support, and comfort children with cancer.
We wanted a way to celebrate survivorship and honor the legacy of those lost to this disease. We also hoped to find a way to bring education and prevention information to families currently struggling, and thus Handing H.O.P.E. was born.
Tell us about your business.
H.O.P.E. is an acronym for “Helping Others through Prevention and Education.” The mission of Handing H.O.P.E. is to create a movement where people choose to kick the chemicals, stop the sugar, and utilize valuable resources to reduce their risk of cancer. We desire to inspire and educate those in the battle, the survivors and those looking for prevention.
Cancer is an epidemic. We know knowledge is power, and sharing H.O.P.E. makes a difference for these families and our communities. Individuals, organizations, companies, and corporations can collectively make a difference when they support this mission through our Lollipop Tree Project, fundraising events, school service projects, wellness workshops, Shop and Share Program, and more.
There is not a person on the planet, when faced with cancer, who does not need hope. When they do, we want to be there to support them through their journey.
The organization is currently working on growing their Lollipop Tree Project, which provides naturally sweetened lollipops to hospitals across the nation for children to enjoy after chemotherapy treatments. These special treats help ease the yucky taste and mouth sores that kids get from chemo.
The Handing H.O.P.E. team is conscious of the negative correlation between sugar and cancer, so these lollipops are free of sugar, gluten, soy, dairy, nuts, and artificial dyes, thereby meeting the needs of cancer nutritional recommendations.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Handing H.O.P.E. loves connecting with our communities and spreading awareness about cancer education and prevention. Keep an eye on the organization’s social media pages, as Handing H.O.P.E. often gives away t-shirts and copies of the book, Be Well Assured, authored by Handing H.O.P.E.’s founders.
Give us a like on your favorite platforms, and leave us a comment saying #ladybossesgiveback for a chance to win a copy of the book for you or a friend.
Handing HOPE has seen amazing success in their launch currently partnering with 16+ hospitals across 10 states. Additionally, founders Kim Bavilacqua and Jen Coffel are the authors of the Amazon best seller Be Well Assured: At The Heart of Cancer There Is H.O.P.E., an inspiring read that offers cancer education and support.
Where is your business based?
Handing H.O.P.E. is based out of Minooka, Illinois. However, the organization services hospitals and children battling cancer nationwide. Current locations include Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Indiana, and Delaware.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
Once the idea for Handing H.O.P.E. was established, the organization grew rapidly. We filed the 501(c)3 legal paperwork and immediately started calling hospitals to see if they would like to take part in the Lollipop Tree Project.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Handing H.O.P.E. works hard to connect with cancer patients, hospitals, and families, as well as meet many great members of our community. Word of mouth, community events, networking, and social media have been very effective in spreading Handing H.O.P.E.’s message and services.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Raising enough funds to fulfill the needs and provide Lollipop Trees to the ever-growing list of hospitals requesting them has been a challenge for Handing H.O.P.E. We are currently looking for businesses and corporations to sponsor Handing H.O.P.E. through our “Giving Circle” sponsor campaign.
Businesses can donate and receive additional promotional and partnership opportunities. For more information about becoming a sponsor please email email@example.com.
How did you overcome these challenges?
The best remedy to these challenges has been Handing H.O.P.E.’s continued (and growing) presence on social media and at networking events. With non-profits it is especially important to stay in communication and connection with audiences and the community so they understand how best to help!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
At its core Handing H.O.P.E. is about bringing smiles and comfort to children as they battle cancer. When challenges arise the team at Handing H.O.P.E. works hard to find a solution, so that they can continue to help those who need it most. When the focus is off of the self and instead on the mission and the people being helped, it is easy to become problem solvers.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
Handing H.O.P.E.’s Lollipop Tree Project is uniquely their own and offers a special service that no other organization does. Not only do we offer children tasty treats as they heal, but having the trees in unit helps open up the conversation between parents and children and between families and their doctors about the nutritional needs of cancer patients.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
All things are fixable.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Find something that you are passionate about, and use it to make a difference. Lead with the why. There are others waiting to lock arms and support your cause with a like-minded mission.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Social media. This platform allows organizations to build not only an audience, but a community where people can engage in fun and unique ways, all while supporting a great mission. Networking also has allowed Handing HOPE to meet some great people, which has lead to fantastic, long-lasting connections.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
Grit by Angela Duckworth.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Handing H.O.P.E. is looking to raise $1 million dollars through the Giving Circle Project. The Giving Circle is comprised of 1,000 individuals, groups, companies, and corporations that each donate $1,000 to Handing HOPE’s causes.
When these members donate, they receive numerous media and sponsorship benefits, including a specially commissioned personalized poster print welcoming them as a Giving Circle member. The print can be displayed as a reminder of their generosity to kids battling cancer, raising even more awareness for these children.
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