When I arrived at ACPA, the Board expressed a desire to increase public awareness of ACPA. With that in mind, I worked to engage with the local community and encouraged the National Office Team to do the same. It is unique to have a national association headquarters located in the Town of Chapel Hill, and many people and local businesses had no idea we were here. I started to attend regular Chamber meetings and network through the Association Executives of North Carolina. Every community meeting our National Office Team attended was an opportunity to share ACPA’s mission, vision and the story of the transformative work of cleft and craniofacial care.
We have also increased awareness by engaging the local community in ACPA events. This past July, we led story time at a local children’s museum and invited local teams, families and supporters to join us for a Durham Bulls baseball game. Each of those events was a stepping stone for our biggest community event yet – a screening of the movie “Wonder.”
As I shared in my blog post on November 27, it was uplifting. For our Silver Sponsors, First Citizens Bank and A Better Image Printing, it was a chance to learn more about what we do; for our supporting donors, Amelia Drake and Lauren Kilpatrick, it was an occasion to share the reason they support ACPA; for the 5th grade class, it was an opportunity to hear first-hand experiences; for our providers, it was a chance to connect with colleagues from other teams; and, for those affected with craniofacial differences and their families, it was an event to connect with each other. A local high school senior who was born with cleft volunteered for ACPA in preparation for the event. He sent us an email afterwards and shared, “Thank you so much for giving me such an amazing experience that I will always remember, in addition to all you do for the cleft community.”
The release of “Wonder” provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness. Across the country, many of you have also held events, which taken together, will have real impact. This is only the beginning. Because while a movie like “Wonder” doesn’t come along every year, we are committed to building community and raising awareness – already kicking around ideas for next year! More to come as National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness month approaches.