It started with one visit. In late October 2014, Tucson, Ariz.-based Truly Nolen Pest Control visited Tucson Medical Center for Children to deliver plastic pumpkins for decorating, and swag bags that would be repurposed for trick-or-treating.
The trip was a simple idea hatched by Michelle Nolen Senner, daughter of the late Truly David Nolen, the company’s founder. Nolen Senner has held many titles during her 18 years with the company and has been its director of operational administrative support and special projects since June 2019. She grew up with the idea that companies should always give back to their local hospitals during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s, because that is a normal time to give gifts to children. But she quickly realized from that inaugural visit to Tucson Medical Center that Halloween is an underserved time of year for children’s hospital. Between that fact and our company lending itself well to Halloween — our vehicles are always dressed up, after all — Michelle set out to have Truly Nolen make Halloween hospital visits its niche by branding “Truly Spooktacular.”
The company added three cities in Florida and one in California in 2015 along with a return trip to Tucson. When I joined the in-house team at Truly Nolen in September 2015, I was able to visit Palm Beach Children’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, St. Joseph’s Children Hospital in Tampa, and Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando. Those three hospitals along with Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Calif. remain part of the program to this day.
After realizing Michelle was on to something and I could help grow the program, when we began scheduling for future visits, I added #TRULYSpooktacular as a hashtag for all of our social media posts. It was important to add hospitals in cities where our service offices are located with team members eager to make a difference.
In 2016, we were fortunate to add Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., Golisano-Southwest Florida Children’s Hospital and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The following year, we added Miami-Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, North Naples Hospital, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Palms West Hospital in Royal Palm Beach (Fla.), Shriners Hospital of Galveston (Texas) and JFK Indio Hospital (Calif.).
For 2018, Michelle wanted to think outside the box even more by adding a couple of non-hospitals like Nevada Childhood Cancer Center in Las Vegas; Ronald McDonald House in Phoenix; and Ronald McDonald House in Tucson. Altogether, we visited 16 hospitals or children centers in five states.
For 2019, I am happy to report we visited 22 hospitals or children centers in six states. Coming on board for the first time in 2019 included All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Children’s Center at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, Sunrise Children’s Hospital in Las Vegas and in El Paso, Texas, the El Paso Chlidren’s Hospital and The Hospitals of Providence Children’s Hospital.
One of my favorite things about #TRULYSpooktacular remains the simplicity of bringing 40 pumpkins into a hospital/venue, having children choose among four decorating sticker kits (this year was a princess, a cat, a scarecrow and a funny face), and watching our team members have fun helping the children.
My other favorite thing is that Michelle and members of both the Tucson Public Relations and Marketing Team, in a nod to being the original seed for this program, dress in full Halloween costume when doing their visit. This year, Michelle and company dressed as Bo Peep and Jessie from Toy Story 2, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Jasmine from Aladdin, and Batman.
With 2019’s visits behind us, I have already begun planning for 2020 — we hope to add a few of our franchises visiting hospitals/venues to our list while adding value to the lives we touch.
Srebnik is manager of public relations and communications for Truly Nolen Pest Control. He can be reached at 954.247.3212 or firstname.lastname@example.org.