“They are very invested in our success….”
It’s long been said that “laughter is the best medicine,” and since 2016 Healthy Humor has been bringing the magic of clowning to hospitals to help alleviate the stress, fear, sadness, and isolation of young patients and their caregivers. The flagship Red Nose Docs are specially trained professional actors, musicians and magicians who create spontaneous, joyful encounters and reintroduce play and fun as natural parts of life. These “Clown Rounds” parody the regimented and intimidating hospital setting and offer a transformative experience through humor, joy and the power of human connection that aids the healing process and gives anxious parents a respite when they see their children being carefree again. Based in New York, Healthy Humor teams visit children’s hospitals and other facilities across the country, including Philadelphia, Miami, New Haven, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, and southern California. Healthy Humor also provides artists-in-residence at Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, Conn., the specialty camp founded by Paul Newman for chronically ill children.
Co-founder & CEO Dina Paul-Parks explains that the clown programs had been in existence since 1986 as part of the Big Apple Circus’ community outreach. When the circus went into bankruptcy she and two other circus members wanted to carry on the program’s 30-year legacy. Although her background was in administration, she admits that she was not fully prepared for the accounting intricacies of starting and running a nonprofit.
“We all left the circus quickly and were flying blind trying to put accounting, insurance and other structures into place, and of course we didn’t have much money at the time,” she recalls. She found an accounting platform that would cost only $50 a month but her husband, who has a financial background, steered her into using part-time help instead.
“He told me that with accounting platforms you get what you pay for, and that even though part-time help would cost much more we would really appreciate it as we grew and especially when we submitted our audit,” she says. After researching several options, she chose Your Part-Time Controller.
“From the very beginning they understood our organization and the nonprofit sector. They really ‘got us.’ They saw that we could be making a very messy transition as a new organization with a complicated business model. I wanted to make sure that all our i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed and that we could show transparency and clean books if we ever came under scrutiny. They eased my fears about starting out,” she says.
The co-founders didn’t pay themselves a salary for the first six months. “But we made the sacrifice to go with YPTC and it has been great. We had confidence that we would grow and solidify our foundation. Engaging YPTC cost us money, but we knew that having that degree of financial transparency from the beginning would help us in the future.”
Paul-Parks recalls that there was a lot of hand-holding and tutoring along the way as YPTC developed a chart of accounts that made sense for Healthy Humor’s business model. The two associates she’s worked with have been not only professional and efficient but have also connected with her on an emotional level.
“They are very invested in our success, in our growth, and in hitting the milestones we set for ourselves,” she says. “They’re giving us the tools we need to get our systems in place and make sure we’re on the straight and narrow.”
YPTC’s support was especially evident when the organization submitted its first audit, an experience Paul-Parks says could have been nerve-wracking. “I would not have been able to prepare the general ledger and reports and the audit would have been insanely more expensive and painful. I’m very grateful for how valuable it’s been to have them by my side from the beginning,” she adds.
“I can’t imagine working with anybody else. They’ve been a godsend for me.”