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April 8, 2024 21 mins
Childhood is full of pure, unadulterated joy through the little things - playing outside, eating a new snack, meeting friends, laughing at cartoons, and much more. For many families, those joys aren't as easy to come by due to poverty, food insecurity or chronic illness. Since 2006, the Dunkin Joy in Childhood Foundation has been working with franchisees, customers, local organizations and charities, and many others to offer special programs and resources for kids in need, and their families, too! Chair Victor Carvalho joins Nichole on the show this week to talk about their work and how you can help them spread joy to vulnerable kids around the region.
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Episode Transcript

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From WBZ News Radio in Boston.This is New England Weekend. Each week
we come together and talk about allthe topics important to you and the place
where you live. It is sogood to be back with you again this
week. As always, I'm NicoleDavis. Growing up of the chronic illness
or in a low income household canleave a lasting impact on a child's life.
Of course, it's through no faultof their own, and their parents

are doing everything they can to tryto help their little ones through these turbulent
times. Parents, though, can'talways do it by themselves, and that's
where the Dunk and Joy In ChildhoodFoundation steps in. Since two thousand and
six, the Foundation has been workingwith customers, franchisees, employees, many
others to do one thing, bringfun, joy and relief to families who

are living with illness or food andsecurity. They make this happen with all
kinds of special events, programs.You know what, I'm gonna let actually
the expert here tell you all aboutthis. Victor Carvolo is the chairman of
the foundation. He is a Duncanfranchise he himself, I am actually so
excited to chat with you, Victory. It is a pleasure to have you
here. Tell us a bit moreto start about the foundation and the work

you're doing for kids. So theDuck and Joy and Childhood Foundation's mission statement
is to bring these simple joys ofchildhood to sick or hungry children. So
what does that mean. That meansthat we raise funds and we give them
back in grants, and we givethem back to grants to hospitals, local
community centers, food banks, foodpantries, anything we can do to make

a child's life a little bit better, and many times in their worst days.
So if we can bring them asmile, if we can make them
forget about their situation for an houra day a week, that's what we
do. Yeah, we'll talk aboutthe programming, because you've got some great
programming for these kids. We'll talkabout that in a few minutes, But

I want to focus first on thegrants you give out to community groups.
I interview a lot of nonprofits aroundhere, and especially in recent years leaving
the covid era or the height ofthe covid era, these grants are more
important than ever. I mean,food in security is worse than it's ever
been. Inflation, it's so expensivejust to get by. Right now,
how have you seen through the foundation, I guess a higher demand for help.

Oh. Absolutely, it's quite eyeopening to see the demands. And
I actually remember when COVID first hit. I'm really proud to say we were
one of the first ones out ofthe gates. We came up with a
million dollars to go out to thefood banks because the needs hits so quickly
and so, you know, sobig at that time that we were able

to you know, activate and getout there within a week of COVID hitting
and things shutting down, you know, and that was basically for food and
security. So we were able toyou know, fund the food pantries and
the food banks to be able toget into the neighborhoods where they serve.
That's great. So now when peoplecome to you for assistance, how does

that process work? Do you choosea certain group of people that you give
the assistance to, do you lookfor applications? How do how does this
all happen? So it's actually toopronged. So our programs, which I
know you said we're talking to,those are actually the hospitals and the medical
centers. They apply directly to theDuncan Joy Foundation. But the others they're

basically nominated by Duncan employees, franchises, Duncan brand employees. They're invited to
buy. So as we learn aboutsituations, as you know, situations arise,
relationships that are already built from thepast. That's those people are invited
to, Hey, come on in, apply, We know you have a

need, we can help you out. So that's that's basically how that works.
And then the other programs that ourSignatural programs deal directly right to the
foundation because they are relationships. Wemake those programs available and we let them
know that those programs are available tothem. I appreciate that hyperlocal approach with

your employees in the stores. Iwas at Barista for many, many years
of my life on the side andthe relationship you get your regulars, right,
the people who come in twice aday and get more caffeine than you
feel like comfortable giving somebody, butyet they still keep coming in, or
the ones who always get like thesame breakfast sandwich every day, Like you
grow these relationships with your customers andto know that now these individual employees in

these individual restaurants can get to knowsomebody and say, hey, wait a
minute, you're actually doing really goodwork, or I want to be able
to help you out with this,or hey, your family or whatever is
struggling. That's going to mean alot to you, not only as a
franchise owner, but also just assomebody who works closely with these employees.
Oh. Absolutely, those relationships arepriceless. And as a Duncan franchise myself,

it's very important to our franchise ecommunity to give back where we live
and work. So when we raiselocal funds for Ice Coffee National Iceed Coffee
Day, for instance, that moneystays within our market and goes back into
that back community. So the peopledown in Florida raising money in Florida,
they've given back in the Florida community. Up here in the Northeast and New

England, all the money that's raisedin Boston stays in Boston. If you're
in province, is stayed in province. So it's very important to us as
a franchise e community, and theFoundation on the stands that as well,
that we raise the funds here.We want to make sure that the one
the guests that are supporting us againsupported back locally as well. Yeah,

it benefits the community, It benefitseverybody involved. And talking about benefiting the
community, let's talk about those programs. One that I'm super excited about is
Dogs for Joy. So tell meabout how these dogs are working to help
out members of the community and howyou're involved with that. Sure, Dogs
for Joy is probably our most popularprogram only because how can you not smile

when you see dogs and kids together, right, I mean it's instant smile
and you know that that dog isbringing joy to that child. So a
little bit thold above the dogs.These dogs are trained to be in the
health service environment. They are partof the child's care. They're not just

day visits they come in and out. No, they are trained. They
are actually employees and at times probablythe most important way on that floor,
because they are trained to help thechild in their worst time. So I've
had the opportunity to see the dogsat work and it's amazing what they do.
I've actually spoken to because gotten toknow her a little bit, to

one of the dog handlers, andwhen the when the dog has a rough
day and probably have been through someyou know, some children who probably not
at their best moments, the dogsactually go home and kind of go cuddle
by themselves in the corner, justlike we would after a long day.
You know, you get home fromwork, you just want to want to

decompress with your feet up. Dogwill do the same thing. So the
dog actually has a sense about thesethat they know what they're doing, not
only because they trained for that,but they definitely understand that they're helping.
There's no doubt in my mind.You know, it's the work they do

is amazing. And you see yousee a child who's gonna get, you
know, jabbed with a needle,you know, scared to death because you
know it might be their first time, it might be the fiftieth time that
day, who knows. But thedog kind of just culos up to them
on the bed and they're heading thedog and they're kind of hugging the dog,
and all of a sudden, thatexperience is a little bit less,

not as scary, because the dogis with them. We're very fortunate to
have four of the best dogs.And I always say they're the best because
we're here in the Northeast, butwe have some great dogs up here in
the Northeast. I get to mentionBob, who works at Tots. He's
got his own Instagram page. He'sa rock star. I wish I had

as many followers as Bob. Okay, he is great. But you know,
to see these dogs, they're reallypart of the medical care team.
They're not just someone. They're partof that day to day. The kids
bond with them. They're amazing whatthey do. The impact of an animal,
I mean, I don't care howold you are, if you're nine

or you're ninety, these dogs,I think dogs are the most empathetic creatures
out there, and like you said, they could. The fact that they
have to decompress when they get homeat night, I mean that goes to
show how critical that they can beto any healing process that you have to
go through. You mentioned you've gota few dogs up here. I see,
you've got bobbit Tuffs. You've gota pup at Bay State Medical Center

in Springfield, another one at LowellGeneral Hospital, another one at UMAs Memorial
in Worcester. Do you have anymore pups coming down the pipeline or yeah?
And I'll tell you all their namesbecause oh yes. So the one
at um Mass Memorial is Valentina,and she was actually brought to the hospital
on Valentine's Day, like I thinkfour years ago, so I think that's

how she got her name. BayState Medical and Springfield is Isabella and Lawrence
General, which was the last onethat we were able to deliver as Sophia.
We do have two more coming thathasn't been announced yet, so I'll
keep you posted. But there's twomore coming to the Boston area and they're

great. It's just I think Iwish everybody could see what these dogs actually
do for these kids. We're notjust talking about younger kids. Prom is
such a big deal when you're ateenager and for you years and years,
you know, you might be justlike looking forward to junior or senior prom.
You're thinking about, oh what amI gonna wear? Who am I
going to go with. It's likea really big deal if you're that age.

And then unfortunately, if you findyourself dealing with an illness or you're
in the hospital for whatever reason,you might not be able to go.
Tell me about Duncan Prom and howyou try to help those kids out who
are in that position when they wouldrather probably be on a dance floor eating
a lot of sugar. Yeah,no, It's funny that you bring up
proms because Proms was almost an ahamoment. I was actually talking to a

group and we showed a video andeven though I was committed with the prom
program and never hit me until thatmoment. So here I am, you
know, six months into this andI have this aha moment. And you
know, you love all your childrenthe same, and I love all our
programs. There isn't a program thatI wouldn't endure or want to talk about.

But proms have a little bit moreof a special feeling because I think,
like you said, prom is likea rite of passage, right,
It's part of our lives. We'veall been there. Some of us went
to one, some of us wentto six. You know, whatever it
may be, but it's a specialnight, right. You put it on
your gown and you put on yourtuxedo. Back in the day when I

was, you know, used tohang out of the sun roof when that
was still allowed, you know,screaming down, you know, as you're
driving down in the limousine, hangingout the sun roof, because you were
cool if you had a tuxedo on. Right. But but and then you
kind of take that and you stepback and you say, these kids who
are sixteen, seventeen, eighteen yearsold, what should be one of their

most memorable nights of their lives?Some good, some bad. You know,
we've all had those proms. Butthey're stuck to an IV pole,
monitors or whatever, and we getto bring them what might not be the
ideal perfect prom, but we bringthem a prom where they can still get

dressed up, they can still goand dance, they can still have fun
with friends. I think that's soimportant because all I can think of as
a seventeen year old being stuck inthe bed and you know, six closest
friends are out in you know,some hall, dancing and having fun,
right, and you probably have yourselfa little bit of a petty party because

you feel like you're missing out.But then you flip that on its head
and you say, Okay, it'seight o'clock in the morning, they're straped
to monitors and an IV poll.At three o'clock in the afternoon, now
they're getting dressed, they're doing theirmakeup, they're you know, getting ready,
they're smiling, they're laughing, they'reyou know, they're coming in on
that red carpet and it's such anevent for them that might not be the

prom they pictured, but it's definitelya memory for life where they were able
to do something similar to everybody else'sprom, and in some cases maybe even
a little bit more special, justbecause you know, I think one of
our very first first proms here inthe Boston area was held at Family Park,

So you know this idea exactly.So it's just it's given them that
opportunity, right, you shouldn't haveto miss, you know, your your
right of passage, your good days, your best days because you're sick.
So that's that's what we're all about, right, just bringing back those simple
joys of life, putting a smileon somebody's face. Like I said,

sometimes it's just for an hour,sometimes it's for a week, sometimes it's
you know whatever, you know,but hopefully they take those memories with them.
And what I always say is theimpact we have on these kids today
they will probably carry forward in thefuture because they're not going to forget how
they you know, how they feltthat you know, that night, and
how they can help somebody else maybein a similar situation. It's about self

esteem, it's about self worth,but also just having a sense of normalcy
because families who are dealing with chronicillness and you're in the hospital, the
famili's going in every day, itwears on you, right, and you
just want to have some sense ofnormalcy. So you've got the prom you've
got these gaming programs, you've gotthe joyful spaces. It looks like your

foundation is really trying to promote asense of normalcy. And I can't imagine
how many families are so grateful forthat when their life is anything but normal
at that point. Yeah, andthat's what it is, is trying to
bring in that normalcy into their lives, but also letting them forget about their
situation, not that they ever forgetabout it, but just kind of like,
you know, instead of thinking aboutit twenty four to seven. And

it's like I can get distracted fora little joyful spaces. You know,
we've created gardens where families can gosit together, or a family room where
they can sit and have dinner together. You know, it's just you know,
what it's all about is you know, we focus on the kids,
but we also realize that has atrickle effect on the family. You have

a sibling that's in the hospital,and and as a parent, we always
know how it is if your childis sick, it affects the family.
I don't There's just no other wayabout it. You know, we focus
on the on the child or thechildren, but it's really affects the whole
family. Because going back to thefood and security, I can't imagine a

child going to a parent's day.Are we going to have dinner today in
the parents say, I don't know. That is something that just drives me
to want to do more because thatshould never be a conversation had in this
day and age. You know,I'm a big guy. I always say
I go to bed hungry because Iwant to lose weight. These kids are

such a disadvantage because they have nochoice because if I'm hungry at two oclock
in the morning, I can getup and go get something if I really
want to, and I probably shouldn't. But these kids have no choice because
they don't have an outlet. Soif we can make their lives a little
bit easier, whether it's a backpackthat gets sent home on the weekend,
or you know, even the parentshave the ability to food bank or food

pantry, that's what it's about,because those kids shouldn't have to have these
situations. They shouldn't have to facethese situations. So it really is and
you know, it's unfair, andthese kids shouldn't be robbed of their fun
times because these kids are innocent andthey're just in a bad place and we
shouldn't they shouldn't be punished for them. Tell me about Good Citizens Month and

what it means to you at theFoundation and how you're taking part in that.
Yeah, so Good Citizens Month startedoff ten years ago or ten years
ago as a week of volunteer soas Duncan Enjoy week has become a month
where we volunteer. And I saywe, that's franchisees, corporate employees,

team employees. We all kind ofgo out and volunteer at these big food
banks and food pantries. And itvaries on what we're doing, and it's
a national program, so we doit for the whole month. I think
that this year we have over onehundred events planned and over two thousand franchises

and employees and corporate employees, andwe work shoulder to shoulder. And I
can tell you that the food banksmake you work, but it feels good.
I mean, you can leave theirtie it and sweaty, but it
feels so good to be able todo that work. It's amazing. I

think it's we have over thirty thousandhours of volunteers planned for this year.
It's just you can't do enough.You just can't do enough. Locally,
we're going to be working with agreater Boston Food Bank, Boston Food Pantry,
Interfaith Social Services, Community Servings,Open Table, and Merrimack Value Food

Banks. Those are the local onesierto the Boston area. Honestly, I
wish that they could open up acouple more you know, time slots for
us because there are people that wantto get in there and we just you
know, can't get them all inbecause people want to give back. And
that's and that's a testament to ourcommunity, whether it be I don't incorporate,

whether it tranchise community, whether itbe our employees. When you tell
people, you know, tell ouremployees you have a team meeting and say
hey, we're going to be youknow, we have this opportunity to go
on volunteer. Everybody's jumping on itbecause they want to do it, not
because you know, they're not goingto be working that day. It's just
that they want to give back.It's really important. And I'll tell you

I've I've had the great fortune ofbeing able to go to a few of
these and the time flies by andeverybody's laughing and everybody is having a good
time. I remember, you know, being at one of the food banks
and we were moving frozen meat.My hands were, my fingertips were I'm
starting to freeze a little bit,and we moved. I don't even remember

it was some crazy number of liketwenty pounds of meat that day, because
they always give you the statistics atthe end of the day. But there's
like sixteen of us there, andI think we laughed the whole time we're
there. We were working, butit just feels so good to give back.
And that's important, is being ableto give back. And we're fortunate

enough to be able to. Ifsomebody is listening and they think, oh
my gosh, I want to bea part of this, right, I
want to help these kids. Iwant to help my local dunkin give back.
How can they do that? True? I mean, the quickest and
easiest ways you can go on ourwebsite, which is Joy and Childhood Foundation
dot org. And there's a donatebutton you can donate there. But then
there's other opportunities throughout the year.So National Ice Coffee Days coming up in

June. For every ice coffee that'ssold that day, a dollar is donated
by the franchise back to Joy.And you know, I think we have
a goal of two million dollars andUH. And then there's other events throughout
the year. So we have theUH the Bark toy where you buy a
dog toy UH and money goes tothe foundation. The whole amount goes to

the foundation. And then at theend of the towards the end of the
year, we have the Bring JoyGive Joy program, which is you donate
a dollar, you put your nameon a stiket, we put the sticker
up on the wall. So thoseare the three easiest, four easiest ways.
But if you go to the JointChildhood Foundation dot org and click the

donate but and you can donate anyamount and this no amount too big or
too small, so it all goesto the same cause. And like I
said, when we raise money herein the Boston area, it stays here
in the Boston area, which Ithink is very important. We give back
right back to our community. Thankyou for everything you're doing for our local
kids and I appreciate your time.Oh, thank you for having us.

Have a safe and healthy weekend,and please join me again next week for
another edition of the show. I'mNicole Davis from WBZ News Radio on iHeartRadio
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