My Thank You Note to Altria

  • Written by Peyton Rowe

My mother always taught me to write thank you notes when you get a gift.

This is my note to you, Altria.

Dear Altria,

Thank you so much for being a pioneering CreateAthon corporate partner, right here in my hometown. What a thrill for me! Each day, I think, “Pinch me. I must be dreaming.” CreateAthon’s first official corporate partner? Here? Go RVA!

Had you asked me last November if I would be working with the amazing folks at Altria on their OWN CreateAthon, I’d have giggled heartily and said, “I wish.” But, thanks to some great teamwork from so many talented people at Altria, I have had the chance to help a company with so much global reach serve their local community in a new way.

But I bet you don’t even realize that your CreateAthon, Altria, is really 4 gifts in one. Being in my hometown is just the first.

As the official CreateAthon Evangelist, I’ve seen how CreateAthon works for plenty of agency and college groups. While there are always unique elements to any particular CreateAthon event, there are lots of similarities. I know the pitfalls, the potential hot spots, when people will flourish and what the projects will generally look like. After 17 CreateAthon events, I am VERY familiar with the territory and the journey.

But tomorrow is different.

Tomorrow will be a new journey, really the last leg on a yearlong journey with you, Altria. Meeting Cynthia Cecil last fall led to three amazing Altria employees mentoring my students at VCU’s CreateAthon last spring. They were so great! Then, Teresa, Yanti and I spent the better part of five months figuring out the best ways to teach so many smart, talented and generous folks how to make this event your own. You, the Altria team, have stepped up, asked the right questions, and worked very hard.

My second gift is watching this new corporate model of CreateAthon take shape. Altria, you have found amazing ways to take our experience and knowledge and shape it into your own. I will be there for the ride, happy to help where I can, and working on the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden team. But, this CreateAthon truly will be crafted by the committed employees of Altria.

Three other amazing Richmond nonprofits will benefit from your event: HandsOn Greater Richmond, CenterStage Richmond and VASS (Virginia Advanced Study Strategies). I am looking forward to spending a day with you, brainstorming, laughing, stressing, taking pictures, laying out work or presentations, whatever is needed. But, I am relishing the chance to enjoy the thrill of helping nonprofits do what they do better, the gift of pro bono service. This is my third gift from you, Altria.

My fourth gift is the most unique, the hardest to get and the most valued to me. Working with you, Altria, has given me the opportunity to have a fresh perspective. You have allowed me and the CreateAthon team to rethink everything about CreateAthon. I’ve never created one for a corporation! How far in advance should you start planning? How many people you really need the day of CreateAthon? What kind of space is ideal? How do we blast out social media? Do you always have to produce creative deliverables? How laser-focused do those creative briefs need to be? You name it, we’ve revisited it.

Helping Altria has helped us at CreateAthon. We’ve learned better ways to support any size group that wants to use their skills in a pro bono marathon. We’ve learned how to teach CreateAthon better which means serving more nonprofits. At the end of the day, serving more nonprofits better is the ultimate gift. Thank you.

Thank you, Altria, for being brave enough and talented enough to serve Richmond with your skills and time. You are CreateAthon’s corporate pioneer and I can’t think of a better community partner. Thank you for teaching me how to teach better and for the thrill of CreateAthon one more time!

See you tomorrow!