The Crayon Initiative, a Danville-based nonprofit organization that supplies crayons to children's hospitals throughout the country, has a new leader at the helm as of this fall.
Bernadette Shanahan-Haas was announced as the organization's new executive director on Oct. 10, a Chicago native and longtime nonprofit manager who most recently served as executive director for Retail Bakers of America.
"After a long search for the perfect person to fill this integral role, we are so excited to have Bernadette join The Crayon Initiative family," The Crayon Initiative founder Bryan Ware said in an announcement.
"Having Bernadette on the team is crucial to our continued growth as we strive to provide free crayons to every children's hospital in the country," he continued. "Her skills and experience are invaluable additions to The Crayon Initiative."
Near the end of her first month on the job, Shanahan-Haas said she was impressed by the organization already and excited for her new role, despite having her hands full settling in.
"It's hard to believe, but I'm coming up on the end of my first month here," Shanahan-Haas said in a statement. "A couple of weeks ago, I got to tour our crayon facility for the first time. All I can say is, wow."
In addition to supplying crayons to children's hospitals, The Crayon Initiative seeks to have a positive environmental impact by rescuing unwanted crayons that would go into landfills otherwise – with 600,000 packs of crayons donated so far, according to Shanahan-Haas.
"I'm still learning the full impact of the work done here," Shanahan-Haas said. "But what's most moved me so far are the stories of lives touched by the organization."
While the scope of the nonprofit may seem small, they seek to make a major impact on children's lives by providing a creative outlet and supplies at a time when they might need it most. In particular, they note the mental health benefits of art and expression for children in all situations, but particularly those needing to keep their minds occupied and feel fulfilled while hospitalized.
More information is available at thecrayoninitiative.org.