by Vincent Alonzo | November 15, 2011

Three years ago, the New York Yankees introduced HOPE Week, a program in which every day for one week during baseball season, the team reaches out to one individual, family, or organization that is worthy of recognition or support. Players and staff members throughout the Yankees organization get involved, and the stories of the recipients are publicized on Yankees broadcasts. 

“The main goal is to help people in need or organizations that offer assistance,” says Jason Zillo, the team’s director of communications and media relations. “But it’s also to publicize good causes and inspire other companies and organizations to do the same.”

One organization that it inspired was Dittman Incentive Marketing. The New Brunswick, NJ-based incentive company recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Instead of just having a party for the employees, Jim Dittman, the company’s president, reached out to the Yankees and received permission to use the HOPE Week name and duplicate the model to mark the occasion.

Five charities were selected, and Dittman employees visited each for a day of service, helping the groups in a variety of ways. What followed was a weeklong celebration of not only the company reaching a significant milestone but also the fulfillment that came with making a positive impact on the community. Here are some quick snapshots of the people and organizations the team at Dittman invited to its anniversary party.

From operating a small soup kitchen in New Brunswick to moving people out of poverty, Elijah’s Promise feeds the underprivileged and trains and employs them in the work of ending hunger. Dittman teammates prepared food for the soup kitchen’s daily lunch service, plated it, and served it. After lunch, they prepared fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Healing the Children New Jersey, in Hawthorne, NJ, provides life-changing medical care for poor children in the United States and throughout the world. The Dittman team spent the better part of a day weeding, pruning, raking, and cutting the vegetation around the charity’s headquarters. One of Dittman’s software developers enhanced the nonprofit’s Facebook page, and the team assembled goodie bags for an upcoming fundraiser.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties, in Eatontown, NJ, provides children facing adversity with one-to-one relationships that change their lives forever. The organization needed help with its fundraising efforts, so the Dittman team consulted with it on its goals, created a communications plan that made better use of technology, and designed and created ecards for communication to donors.

NJ Seeds, in Newark, NJ, prepares academically talented but financially limited youth for success at competitive secondary schools, and it relied on several Dittman capabilities for help. Dittman’s travel and event planning staff created a plan and timeline for an event by NJ Seeds to honor the guidance counselors who were most active in the program. Dittman also contributed its proprietary online registration system for the event and wrote the copy for it. It also gave NJ Seeds a dozen ideas to enhance the nonprofit’s 20th anniversary celebration next year. And Dittman’s IT department scanned a host of documents into an electronic system to help NJ Seeds get organized. 

The Ronald McDonald House of New Brunswick provides support for families of ill children receiving treatment at area hospitals. By providing a “home away from home,” it helps families remain together while they manage their children’s care. The Dittman team cleaned and disinfected a cellar full of toys that were affected by recent floods, and it created fall plantings and decorations to enhance the grounds around the house. 

Comments Dittman: “We were very excited to participate with these exceptional charities. We hope we made a real and meaningful difference.”

That hope was realized shortly after Dittman’s HOPE Week celebration. During a meeting with some senior executives from Marriott International, they told Dittman that they were donating $500 to Elijah’s Promise. “They had read in our company newsletter about what we did. I was very touched by it because it was exactly what the Yankees are trying to do with their HOPE Week—inspire other organizations to get involved.”