Help with Small Things When They Matter Most

Remember the night before that interview for your first big job? One of the biggest agonies was deciding what to wear. Would I look professional? Would I be able to walk in my new pumps? Would my hair cooperate?

Then I try to imagine what that preparation process would be like if I was living at a shelter, having fled a dangerous domestic situation with just the clothes on my back, and didn’t have a car or gas money to get to the job anyway. Maybe I’d be tempted to think, “Who am I kidding? I’m never going to get that job.”

My longtime business partner and founder of PPO&S, the late Carolyne Smith, grew up in disadvantaged circumstances, so she understood what it was like to not have those small but important items that help one feel empowered to move toward a better life. “When you are trying to turn your life around, sometimes it’s the tiny obstacles that prove the hardest to overcome,” is what she used to say.

In a Pinch Fund logoSo it was no surprise when, upon receiving the YWCA Greater Harrisburg Legacy Award for community service in 2004, Carolyne used the occasion to establish the In a Pinch Fund, which helps women who are living at the YWCA with small, one-time financial grants that enable them to cover immediate needs such as a suit for job interviews, a coat, eyeglasses, or a new pair of work boots. Since then, 80 women have been aided by the fund. Their stories and expressions of thanks have humbled and inspired us to see what more we could do.

As our ad agency celebrates 35 years of success, we’re sharing our success by actively promoting awareness of and contributions to the In a Pinch Fund. As part of the effort, we’ve secured the support of downtown restaurants and businesses who will offer special events and promotions. We’re not looking for big donations — in keeping with our 35th birthday theme, we’re asking donors to contribute .35 to $35 or more. Our intent is to emphasize that, just as small things can make a big difference, small contributions can make a meaningful impact. The YWCA Greater Harrisburg has established a permanent link for online donations at

Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to hear more about In a Pinch events coming up in the weeks ahead, and how you can become a Partner in Success with us on this effort. Maybe we can together raise a glass in support of the idea that at some point in our lives, we’re all taking a risk, making a leap, and could use a little encouragement.

By Virginia Roth Chief Branding & Strategy Officer