Sabrina Espinal is a social media consultant for small businesses and the founder of Polly’s Charity, a charity she founded just a year ago in the name of her mother. Polly’s Charity is focused on providing aid and support to the students of the Akron Public School System in Akron, Ohio, where her mother was a teacher. Her focused goal has already helped many students in such a short amount of time, and she is just beginning. Her story is a reminder of how important giving is, and how when we give JUST A LITTLE we have the ability to change and enhance all that is around us.
Love+Water- What kind of social media consulting do you do?
Sabrina Espinal- I do social media services for small companies. Anything from creating their WordPress website to doing blogs, creating Facebook Fan Pages with custom tabs, Twitter and any membership sites they may have. I let them know what PR opportunities are available as well. I teach workshops on consulting as well. I worked at AT&T for years, in Human Resources. I needed to make a change, and I went on a leap of faith to do something different and that was positive and meaningful for me.
L+W- In your experience, how does social media differ from traditional advertising for small businesses?
SE- It’s a slower process than advertising because it doesn’t give you immediate results for the most part. If you have an event coming up or a workshop and you want to get the word out, you can advertise it in many different ways. When you tweet about it or put it on your Facebook Fan Page, people who follow you will see it but it may not peak their interest at this time. However, the more you announce events through social media while engaging in conversations with your committed followers, such events will pay off down the road because more and more people will start to participate in your discussions. It’s an important tool to keep building your brand.
L+W- Can you talk about Polly’s Charity?
SE- I started Polly’s Charity in April of 2009. I lost my mom in March of 2009, and she was such an absolutely wonderful and amazing person and mom and I really wanted her to live on. So I used the life insurance money she left me to start a charity in her name- “Polly” was her nickname. She taught in the Akron
public schools of Akron, Ohio for over 30 years. The school system decided to change their dress code, and required all students to wear uniforms. This was a hardship for many of the families who couldn’t afford the uniforms, so I worked with the PR department of the school system and came up with the idea to buy uniforms for the kids. So the charity began with three goals in mind: to buy uniforms for students who needed them, to put books in the libraries at the elementary level, and to help with any field trips they might have that are an expense.
L+W- Where does the bulk of your funding come from?
SE- The largest base is from the life insurance. I have a “donate” button on the website. Last summer I had a summer fundraiser for people in the Akron, Ohio area. I’m going to fundraise again this year. Fortunately there are a lot of clubs in the area that both my parents were involved with, so I plan to talk with them this year as well. There is a school science project that I’m getting ready to make a donation to.
L+W- What is the most moving moment you’ve had so far with Polly’s Charity?
SE- I think probably the reaction of the people who knew my mom, the newspaper article in the Akron Beacon Journal was very touching, and when people tell me stories about my mom that I didn’t know- all of it is very moving and touching.
L+W- Is there anything else you want people to know about the work you do?
SE- I think one of the best things you can ever do in your life is to give back on a regular basis, no matter what you do and how you do it, whether it’s helping a neighbor or giving to a charity or starting a charity. It’s one of the best things you can do in your life.