by Debbie Burke
Being a Brownie and then a Girl Scout in the 1940’s set the stage for a lifetime of volunteerism and charity for Maryanne Heeter. “It made me realize how much a good deed means to others,” she recalled. Her first campaign? Selling a box of Girl Scout cookies at 35¢.
She’s not only built her life around important causes but also has had an intuitive knack for building consensus, a vital component in fundraising and community support. The secret of creating and growing a network is simple: relationships. “Tell your story,” she says. “Believe in the mission.”
Through the years some of the organizations she has felt especially aligned with include the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts; Big Brothers and Big Sisters; Pocono Medical Center; Women’s Resources of Monroe County; the Pocono Family YMCA; the Center for Vision Loss; Pocono Mountains Community Library; the Salvation Army…and that’s just a partial list.
Due to the challenges of the post-2008 economy, Maryanne has noticed a definite shift in donors who gave more to the arts are now favoring organizations that meet basic human needs such as food and shelter. “There are more homeless individuals now,” she said. “We have a need for affordable housing and for more transportation.”
Having established the Pocono Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Maryanne laments that many non-profits in our area lack the resources to hire development directors. “No doubt that was the reason I was serving on 14 different boards after my retirement in 2002,” she says. “They all needed my help in fundraising.”
When Maryanne served as the director of development at then-Pocono Medical Center, she managed all aspects of the annual campaign and was responsible for raising an astounding $10,000,000 for their Capital Campaign. Then, serving as the volunteer director, she oversaw a huge battalion of volunteers: 550. From different backgrounds, they came together for one purpose, to make the experience of the sick and injured a little nicer. “I watched a blend of locals and new residents develop relationships and become friends,” she recalls. “We have retained that small-town connection.”
Some of the awards Maryanne has received are the Girl Scout Thanks Badge and Thanks II Badge – the highest adult awards in Girls Scouting; East Stroudsburg School District’s Halls & Walls of Fame; AFP’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional; and the Boy Scouts of America – Distinguished Citizen Award. In October, she was honored by the Salvation Army East Stroudsburg Corps with the 3rd Annual Ann & Joseph Farda Community Service Award.
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