WILKES-BARRE – The "15-MINUTE NAP LIMIT" sign taped to the conference room door of a downtown office might seem generous to the average office worker.
But not when the work day is 24 hours long.
Eyes closed and sprawled out on a couch in the makeshift "nap room" of Dawe Consulting, John Dawe said he had been at work for 12 hours as of 8 p.m. Thursday, and still had 18 hours to go.
"I'm the only one who goes 30 hours. Everyone else goes 24. I have to come in and set up early and take down late," said Dawe, one of the coordinators of the NEPA CreateAthon. The event is a 24-hour creative blitz in which area graphic artists, designers, writers and marketing specialists produce marketing ideas and designs for area nonprofit organizations and agencies.
In an adjacent room, Catherine Shafer, the other coordinator who started the local branch of the annual event back in 2002 through her company cds creative, sat with volunteers at a table typing their thoughts into laptop computers.
"I just love doing it. It's one of those things that you know you're making a difference," Shafer said. "You've got some freedom to really be creative and present something the next morning. I can honestly say 90 percent of the people that we've made things for have used what we've done. That's a marvelous thing. It's a great way to give back to the community."
Shafer said creative agencies are asked to do pro bono work all the time for nonprofits. "You love to do it, but sometimes you can't. This way, we can. You just work 24 hours, do a whole bunch of stuff, make a whole bunch of people happy and then go home and go to bed, try to recuperate."
Dawe said participation is open to any creative professional from a regional agency.
"In order to help more organizations, instead of cds creative CreateAthon or Dawe Consulting CreateAthon, we call it NEPA CreateAthon so that organizations and creative folks from across the region can participate," Dawe said.
Working on educational literature for Lourdesmount Youth & Family Services in Lackawanna County, Jim Luft, graphic designer at Corcoran Printing in Wilkes-Barre, said it was his sixth volunteer year at NEPA CreateAthon.
"I kind of just listen to the customer," Luft, of West Pittston, said of his source for inspiration. "They know what they want, they just don't know how to do it in this medium. So if I listen to what they're telling me to do, it just kind of comes naturally."
Just before 9 p.m., the volunteers got a visit from the head of one of the agencies chosen to benefit from this year's NEPA CreateAthon – Sharon McCrone, executive director of EOTC – a private nonprofit that promotes family stability and economic self-sufficiency by providing parent-child education and workforce services in Lackawanna County.
McCrone said this year's event was the third for which EOTC applied for consideration. "We figured that one of these years we would be chosen, and we were this year. And we're happy for it because this year is probably more important than previous years because we are just now stepping into the 21st century of trying to get our social network set up through social media."
Other nonprofits selected included Meals on Wheels of NEPA, Scranton; Family Service Association of Wyoming Valley, Wilkes-Barre; Avenues Foundation, Pottsville; and the Anti Bullying Coalition of Luzerne County, Wilkes-Barre.
The projects were presented to the nonprofits at a "Big Reveal" at Rodano's restaurant/bar on Public Square late Friday morning.