Above, the Lemonettes (AKA the Martelli family) at their annual Lemonade Stand
by Jeff Tepper, City Dads Group
About five years ago, Don Martelli’s daughters Kayla and Jordan (now ages 13 and 10) started a summer bucket list, at the advice of his wife Susan. One of the ideas was to hold a lemonade stand and donate the money to charity. Don took to Google for some direction and found out about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). The rest, as they say, is history. His kids were touched by the idea that they could raise money for other kids in need, and he and his wife couldn’t imagine the struggle facing the parents of kids affected by cancer. With those feelings as their motivation, the Martellis embraced the mission to hold a lemonade stand and raise money for pediatric cancer. Don and his family have held the stand every year since, and have raised over $15,000 for ALSF.
For Don, an active father and member of the Boston Dads Group (an outpost of City Dads Group), involving his kids in the operation of the stand is paramount. His daughters participate every step of the way, from painting the stand to helping spread the word, and of course serving the lemonade. His kids are also the focal point of the stand’s identity. Using his background in marketing, Don felt his stand would benefit from having a brand name. His girls named themselves “The Lemonettes,” and the name stuck. Don created accounts for The Lemonettes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the family uses Snapchat geo-filters during the stand’s operation.
The start was humble.
“We had no clue what we were doing,” Don said. “Other than inviting our friends and family to come by the house for some lemonade and a barbecue. We didn’t promote heavy on social media and we bought a cardboard lemonade stand, which was super flimsy and hard to keep up when the wind blew.”
Despite the inexperience and difficulties, the family still raised almost $2,000. The next year, the Martellis bought a better stand, used social media more and by the third year, Don built a collapsible stand out of 2x4s, which he now uses each year. He also started to notify local politicians and media outlets, and they responded by stopping by. In the fourth and fifth years, the family used paid social media posts and made some tweaks to their setup to gain more visibility. Going into the sixth year this summer, The Lemonettes stand has become a staple in the neighborhood that all look forward to. With as many as 50 folks present at any given time, they stop traffic and draw attention.
When asked for some advice to pass on to other stand holders, Don said, “In the end, fundraising is all about tapping into your personal and professional network, and then having them do the same. The more people talk about your stand [in person and on social media], the more the stand will grow. I think we've been so successful because we are very aggressive about marketing the date online and doing so in a way that is fun, engaging and reminds people about this important cause. Now that we've done this five years in a row, we have a foundational support base that will always donate every year.” Five years in, the Martellis’ challenge is continued growth and expansion of that network. As they get ready for their sixth year fundraising for ALSF, it’s a safe bet that The Lemonettes won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Jeff Tepper is a co-organizer and blogger for Dallas Dads Group, an outpost of City Dads Group. A full-time licensed clinical social worker, Jeff also helps City Dads Group identify and work with nonprofit agencies to help charitable causes. A native of Massachusetts who moved to Texas in 2010, Jeff loves Boston sports, still thinks ‘Nique was robbed in ’88, and has never been able to decide if his favorite hip hop group is A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul.
City Dads Group is a dynamic and diverse community of fathers dedicated to being active in their children’s lives and, by example, redefining what it means to be a dad in the 21st century. City Dads Group has chapters in over 20 major metropolitan areas throughout the United States, which host meetups for dads and kids to get together for socialization and support. City Dads Group is also active online and on social media, publishing blog posts and The Modern Dads Podcast. For more information, please visit http://citydadsgroup.com/