Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill used to say that all politics is local. In the case of public relations, that holds true as well for local businesses and charities. I happen to be a member of the Board of Directors of Michael’s Feat  a 501(c)3 non-profit that assists the families of seriously ill newborns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey.

The Fund is named in memory of baby Michael Gerard Puharic, born July 29, 2000 to Adam and Dana Puharic. They were informed early on in the pregnancy that Michael would face grave health problems because of a chromosome disorder known as trisomy 13. On August 1, 2000, after battling for 83 hours, Michael passed away peacefully at home with his parents at his side. At Michael’s funeral, the Puharics announced their intention to start a fund to assist other families raising an ill newborn. This initial fundraising goal turned into Michael’s Feat and has now helped hundreds of families throughout Monmouth County, distributing over $300,000 in direct benefits since 2000.

The Fund holds three major fundraisers each year, a Gala Dinner at Battleground Country Club in March, a Family Barbeque Picnic at Camp Arrowhead in Marlboro on the weekend anniversary of Baby Michael’s birth in July and a wine tasting event in September. Each event is geared to raise awareness for the work of Michael’s Feat and to raise funds from different demographic groups.

Throughout the year, other groups and organizations hold smaller fundraising events to benefit Michael’s Feat. The pairing of small business owners with local charities if done right can be very beneficial to both parties. An example of one that has been quite effective is a Michael’s Feat Cut-A-Thon sponsored by the Peter Conte Salon and Spa in Matawan.

 This past Sunday Peter Conte Salon and Spa held its second annual Michael’s Feat Cut-A-Thon with one hundred percent of the proceeds donated to Michael’s Feat. The event drew customers from throughout the surrounding area, with customers walking away with fresh cuts, courtesy of the stylists who generously donated their time to this worthwhile fundraiser.

Roger Peter, co-owner, said, “I understand the need for organizations such as Michael’s Feat that assist families who have seriously ill children. For the first two years of my granddaughter’s life, Monmouth Medical Center served as her second home. My family received tremendous support in many ways from the community during this very difficult time and I am happy to give back to help others facing similar challenges.”

Peter added, “My partner, Jennifer Conte, and I are proud to sponsor the Cut-A-Thon and have decided to make this an annual event. We were very pleased with this year’s turnout over the holiday weekend and look forward to making the third year the best yet, especially since it will be part of the tenth year celebration of Michael’s Feat.”

By partnering with Michael’s Feat, Peter Conte Salon and Spa made a direct connection to not only a co-owner’s personal life but to the community at large which is very familiar with the Michael’s Feat charity since the Puharic family lived in neighboring Aberdeen until a year ago. Hanging a banner outside the establishment announcing the fundraiser brought great visibility to the Salon.

For Michael’s Feat it was a winner as well. The Fund now has a local business committed to hosting an annual fundraising event. Local news outlets will publish the outcome from the event so both entities will benefit on the media side as well.

The teaming of Peter Conte Salon and the Michael’s Feat charity showcases how local businesses and charities can benefit from each other. Just like the ownership of the Peter Conte Salon did, a business should only get involved with a charity if they feel strongly in support of the cause and are willing to commit the resources necessary, especially manpower, to see the event through.

From a charity’s perspective, the group or business that contacts you to run a fundraising event, needs to understand fully what your Mission is as a charitable organization, what you are all about and how together you can help promote the event. If both entities are right for each other, the pairing turns into public relations wins for both.

Tom Cosentino


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