By HANNAH SAWYER
The York Daily Record/Sunday News
Updated: 11/14/2012 01:40:13 AM EST
Mark Boyd sat down at a table at the annual autumn memorial luncheon for the Jedediah Thomas Smith Foundation, a local nonprofit, to talk and eat. He wore a white T-shirt with the letters “YAFCA” stamped across the front.
The letters stood for a new organization called You Are Finally Cared About for which Boyd is president of marketing. Boyd didn’t know Kristin Buckley, the founder of The Jedediah Thomas Smith Foundation, well. He came simply because he wanted to deliver a message of support for her and her organization, which seeks to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.
Buckley’s son, Jed, died in 2010 at the age of 12 after a prolonged battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After Jed’s death, Buckley founded The Jedediah Thomas Smith Foundation in honor of Jed’s memory. The organization’s mission is to raise funds and awareness of childhood cancer research.
But Boyd also was there because John Ellis, the president and CEO of You Are Finally Cared About, couldn’t be. Ellis is currently serving in the US Air Force and stationed in Spangdahlem, Germany.
In Germany, Ellis spends his days working full-time as a senior airman structural apprentice, performing routine facility maintenance and constructing Air Force buildings. His nights are spent working to grow his organization from across the Atlantic and to secure its non-profit status.
Attending Buckley’s fundraiser was one way for Boyd to help Ellis get the word out to the local non-profit and charitable community about the new resource. You Are Finally Cared About is unique in the non-profit world, Ellis said. Its purpose is to support other non-profits and charities by acting as an information hub for donors, customers and what Ellis calls the “in-betweeners,” or those who are both donor and customer.
The organization will operate primarily online. Its website, www.yafca.org, launched Nov. 6.
If he can explain and simplify the accreditation process for other non-profits by providing links to pertinent forms, a networking message board for users, and also advertise upcoming events, Ellis said, he can help encourage growth in the York non-profit and charity community.
“We’re focused on making sure community outreach doesn’t become so complicated that it doesn’t happen,” Ellis said.
Ellis believes individualized outreach through social media will separate his efforts from the more traditional methods, such as phone drives and mailing campaigns, that other larger organizations often use.
“We’re not just high-tech,” Ellis said. “We’re high-touch.”
“Donate money, that’s one thing,” Boyd said. “But donate time, that’s another.”
Buckley’s fundraiser generated more than $10,000 for The Jedediah Thomas Smith Foundation. She plans to put a portion of the proceeds toward supporting The Four Diamonds Fund and Penn State’s THON.
The support of Boyd, Ellis and the You Are Finally Cared About organization made a difference that day for Buckley.
“Having them at our fundraiser and knowing they feel our cause is worthwhile is a wonderful feeling,” she said. “It is imperative that small organizations like ours have help, support and connections. I think YAFCA is filling a much needed void.”
Ellis admitted facilitating the level of community engagement he envisions is no small task but said his work with the Air Force has taught him the determination he needed to tackle tough situations and dream big.
“If we can’t keep the buildings standing, then the planes can’t fly. I try to remind myself that I’m solving problems at work every day as I’m working to fix problems at home.”