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Chamber Executive Article Archive

A Thirst for Entrepreneurship



By Gina M. Spagnola

Winter 2014

Look for lemon shortages the first Sunday in May
as Lemonade Day spreads to more communities.

Galveston weather the first Sunday in May was breezy and warm, a beautiful day that I spent visiting lemonade stands. Yes, drinking 35 cups of lemonade was all in a day’s work! It was the 2nd Annual Lemonade Day Galveston.

As I drove around the city, it looked like the entire island had been doused in yellow, with more than 500 lemonade stands, most of them painted yellow, and hundreds of citizens wearing yellow in support of 700 entrepreneurial kids.

Lemonade Day is about business. The kids learn how to start, own and operate their very own business: a lemonade stand. They learn valuable life skills such as setting goals, making and working a plan, earning their own money and achieving their dreams. May 5 was the day to put those lessons to work, and they were excited.

I stopped at as many stands as I could to cheer them on and buy lemonade. In addition to teaching sales, marketing, customer service, product development, budgeting, and business location considerations, we encouraged the kids to:

  • spend some of their profits
  • save some
  • share some by giving back to the community

Going National

If you google the word “lemonade,” you get 11 million hits; “lemonade stand” returns less than seven million, but “lemonade day” gets 45 million.

Lemonade Day was conceived by philanthroper Michael Holthouse, founder and president of Paranet Inc., a small computer network services company that he grew in six years to a $100 million business which he ultimately sold to Sprint in 1997. The Holthouse Foundation for Kids focuses on at-risk youth, teaching life skills and entrepreneurship. Lemonade Day, a 14-step process for aspiring entrepreneurs, was launched in Houston in 2007 with 2,600 kids participating. In 2013 some 200,000 kids were involved in Lemonade Day in 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada. The goal is one million kids in 100 cities.

Flashback

I had received an email more than two years ago asking if the chamber would be interested in producing Lemonade Day Galveston. As a busy chamber executive, mother, wife, friend and community volunteer, I reminded myself that I couldn’t do everything, so I quickly filed the email away. But I couldn’t get Lemonade Day out of my head—or my heart.

The next day I reviewed the email and began researching the program. I wanted to hear about it from kids who had been involved, so I dug a little deeper. As I watched the kids’ online testimonies, I realized that we had to bring Lemonade Day to Galveston Island. My board of directors agreed 100 percent. My staff, always thinking outside the box, knew this event had our name written all over it. Businesses lined up for sponsorships and support. The mayor, city council and volunteers were committed and passionate about empowering today’s youth to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. They understood that sparking dreams by building lemonade stands could help fuel growth in Galveston for years to come.

The entire community embraced the concept and stepped up to educate our youth about how to become entrepreneurs. Our future leaders were mentored and supported by members of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce and the business community.

I’ve been producing events for 30 years, and I’ve never before seen an event with the power to connect and unite a community like Lemonade Day. Our local sponsors, schools, non-profit organizations and businesses partnered in a way that was unique to this program, which truly made an impact on the lives of kids all across Galveston Island. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that we said yes to Lemonade Day Galveston, which has been recognized for excellence by the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.

Gina M. Spagnola, IOM, is president of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce and city director of Lemonade Day Galveston. If you’re interested in bringing Lemonade Day to your community, contact her at gspagnola@galvestonchamber.com or (409) 789-5906. Learn more at Galveston.LemonadeDay.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LemonadeDayGalveston. Or, visit lemonadeday.org.

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