Guest Blogger: Rob Hilmer
When I registered for Principles of Marketing, I had a completely different conception about what it was going to involve. Like many other classes, I thought it was going to be a bunch of informative lectures with a few boring exams. Then, one day I walked into class knowing we were having someone from a not-for-profit organization come and talk to us about a potential project. Betsy Farmer was introduced to us as one of the co-founders of Promise. As she began to speak, I could already hear the emotion in her voice telling her amazing story and dream. Being informed that she had a son with autism, and of all the challenges they have overcome, I was immediately inspired. I learned that Luke had achieved accomplishments such as obtaining a second degree black belt, passing his driver’s permit test, and getting a job at one of the local movie theatres. Betsy had also achieved many great accomplishments for her son and the community. In 1987, she opened the award-winning Space Coast Early Intervention Center, a pre-school designed for children with and without special needs to foster friendships, social acceptance and preparation for school life. Once Luke grew older she decided to work with the business community to begin the Brevard Business Leadership Network which provides employment opportunities for individuals with special needs. After informing us of her background, we began to listen to her ultimate dream in the end. Today, she is working on an entirely new plan to provide for the next period of Luke’s life. Promise is Betsy and Luke’s not-for-profit organization that has an ultimate goal to provide a much needed housing choice for those with special needs, and if accomplished, it will be the first of its kind in Brevard County. After hearing this amazing story and dream, the class was collectively on board and ready to begin whatever we had to do to help. The opportunity for us was finally brought to our attention. Chase bank was giving away $5 million to 196 charities, and Promise was one of the 30,000 given the opportunity. In order to win some of this money, all we had to do was get a sufficient amount of Facebook votes to be one of the top 196 charities. Being a group of college students, we thought this would be easy and accepted the challenge.
Reality struck in when we found out that we had barely three weeks to plan, organize, and execute our strategies, so we begin immediately. Together as a class we formed multiple groups to achieve all of our objectives. Within two weeks we advertised, organized and prepared for our events to take place on campus and to get students and faculty to vote. We held several events around campus during lunch and dinner hours, at a time where we thought we could get the most exposure and ultimately receiving substantial votes. By the time we started our first event, voting had already been up for several days and we were way behind. After the first two days, our votes increased significantly and we began to become more and more excited, realizing we had a chance. By the last day of voting, we were just trailing behind the 196 charities in votes. After we had shut down our last event, we felt a little uneasy, wondering if we were going to be able to get the money. At this point, I forgot this was even a project for school. My main care was whether this charity was going to receive this opportunity. I fell asleep at night hoping that it was going to happen. As soon as I woke up I reached to my computer and could not believe my eyes. I felt as if I had won $10,000! We did it! They were granted $10,000 towards making their Promise; “a place where young adults with special needs can live a life full of opportunities and freedom never thought possible.”
This experience has not only given Promise this opportunity, but it has given me an opportunity as well. I ended that day knowing I did something great and personally contributed for the greater good. It made me realize how great that feeling is and how I want to continue the experience wherever I may go. Dr. Cudmore’s principle of marketing class has already taught me a tremendous amount within the first five weeks. In our first lecture, we learned that the meaning of marketing is to “facilitate the exchange, to utilize the marketing mix, and to satisfy the customer’s need”. In this project, all of those steps were taken. We decided to take on this challenge of getting the votes by using our diverse class to reach out to students, organizations, and families and friends from all over the world, to satisfy Promise with a grant from Chase Bank. This real life experience has not only developed me as a student at Florida Institute of Technology, but as an individual realizing the difference I can make.
To learn more about Promise in Brevard please visit: http://promiseinbrevard.com/promise/the-board