We use signs in our lives every day, and probably don’t give them much thought. They help us know where to go, when to stop, how fast we can drive, and where to find a restaurant or business. Signs lead you to a place and they communicate what that place is about. Many of us experience the power that signs and logos have on our children – they know when they drive by a McDonald’s or Target before they can actually read. And if you’re not a business owner, you may not know that signs can also be quite expensive – especially ones that are lit up to be seen at night.
Beyond Our Grasp
Our GiGi’s Playhouse Detroit Board has discussed getting a sign above our doors for over a year now. We didn’t have it in the budget to get it before our Grand Opening on January 27, 2019. And as a result, we heard from people attending the Grand Opening that they had trouble finding us… because there was no sign.
So following the Grand Opening the Board reviewed quotes from a few sign companies and had it on our agenda for several months. We discussed whether to save money and not have it lit, or to wait and invest in a high-quality sign that is visible at all hours since we have many evening programs like One-on-One Literacy Tutoring and GiGiFIT.
However, we all felt it was more important to use the funds we had to launch programs, purchase materials, games, toys and supplies that will directly impact individuals with Down syndrome and their families. So the marquee above our doors remained empty through the spring and summer.
A Plan for Our Sign
As we approached our A Night to Inspire fall gala in October, the event committee decided to use the Dedicated Giving portion of the evening to raise the necessary funds to purchase our sign. Our emcee, Ann Marie LaFlamme from WXYZ led the Dedicated Giving bidding, encouraging the attendees to help us get that sign above our doors. More than enough money came in and the Board celebrated!
But during the evening, Ann Marie mentioned to some Board Members, “I know a sign guy. I’m going to reach out to him and get you connected.” Ann Marie delivered on that promise, bringing Scott Gardner, CEO of Gardner Signs out to the Playhouse less than three weeks after the gala. A few Board Members and our Site Coordinator discussed the specifications, colors, budget and timing with Scott. Ann Marie helped match paint colors. And as the conversation continued, Scott surprised us by offering to cover the cost of making the sign! To say we were blown away is an understatement!
“After preparing a proposal, we realized that we were in the fortunate position to donate the sign to GiGi’s Playhouse so that funds that had been set aside for this project could go to helping the children and adults involved at GiGi’s. We are grateful here at Gardner Signs that we are able to provide a small contribution to the GiGi’s family!” – Scott Gardner, CEO, Gardner Signs
At Long Last
So on January 8, 2020, just a few weeks before our 1st Anniversary, Gardner Signs installed our beautiful new sign on the corner marquee above our doors! It shows those looking for GiGi’s Playhouse exactly where we are. But it also communicates to all who drive through this shopping plaza the positive message of it being a “Down Syndrome Achievement Center”! We are changing perceptions and shifting the narrative about individuals with Down syndrome. They are capable, and they CAN achieve their dreams when provided the right supports and encouragement!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Scott Gardner and Gardner Signs for your generous and thoughtful donation. And of course, Ann Marie, thank you again for all the ways you support us through your time, sharing our story through your platform on the news, and for all the ways you shout the worth of our loved ones with Down syndrome! You hold such a special place in our hearts.
We’d love for you to see our new sign in person. You can swing by anytime, but the perfect opportunity is to join us Saturday, January 25th from 11 AM – 1 PM for our 1 Year Anniversary Celebration! We hope to see there!
And as always, if you’d like to join the exciting momentum we’ve built over the past year, we are always in need of volunteers!