When 17-year-old Catherine Franano learned the mattresses at Kansas City Rescue Mission were old and too worn for comfortable use, the Pembroke High School senior leapt into action, she said.
“Some of these people … like they’ve just had so many awful things happen to them, but not having anywhere to sleep?” Catherine said. “How are you going to go out and find work if you can’t even get a good night’s sleep?”
With her years of volleyball experience on club teams, as well as giving lessons on the sport, Franano set in motion plans for a sand volleyball tournament to benefit the mission, with proceeds going to support the men in the emergency shelter, she said.
Catherine spent summer 2017 handing out flyers, promoting the event — dubbed the Serve Hope Spiketacular — through Kansas City Rescue Mission’s network, and organizing sponsors for the raffle and prizes, she said.
“It’s just walking into stores and saying, ‘Hey, do you have a manager? Can I talk to them? We’re looking for sponsors,’” Catherine said. “I was terrified to do that at first because it’s like who’s this teenager coming in and asking us for money or free things? But I got comfortable pitching it and I think people started to take me seriously and we ended up with a ton of sponsors.”
After months of planning and registering the final teams just under the wire, the Spiketacular doubled its initial goal, netting $10,000, she said. It also pulled in 20 teams, including one from the shelter, Catherine said.
“I definitely didn’t think it was gonna be this big when I started,” she said.
The Spiketacular is expected to return September 9, with registration opening at the end of July.
Catherine also hopes to transition the one-off event into a nonprofit organization, she said.
“It was a really cool process and I think this year I’ll definitely go into it with more confidence,” Catherine said. “Our goal is $20,000 this year, so it’s gonna be a challenge but it’s going to be exciting.”
With her interest in business building, Catherine joined YEP KC, a high school internship program focused on entrepreneurship, to bring together her passions for STEM and volunteer work, she said.
“I’m kind of an interdisciplinary student. And I thought entrepreneurship sounded like what I had been doing with my nonprofit,” she said. “Just being in the YEP KC program I think is really going to help this coming.”