• 68°

New yard greeting business gives back

NORCO — The River Region’s newest yard greeting business has a mission to give back, not just in the local community, but also on a global scale.

Sign Dreamers of River Parish opened this summer to serve St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and surrounding parishes.

The Sign Dreamers team members are like Santa’s little elves; they sneak in, unseen, to set up yard signs early in the morning and take them down late at night when everyone is sleeping. The stealth of the set-up adds an element of magic to the experience.

Sign Dreamers of River Parish wanted to share the magic with children returning to campus for the first time since March. More than a dozen schools in St. John, St. Charles and Ascension Parish competed in a Back to School giveaway to win a free yard greeting. Norco Elementary came out on top with a whopping 42.9 percent of the vote, followed by Ascension of Our Lord of LaPlace in second place with almost 13 percent of the vote.

The Norco Elementary Eagles got a special surprise when they arrived at school on Monday and saw a “Welcome Back” sign flanked by colorful stars, emojis and school supply icons.

“Since we did the staggered approach, it was the first day that we had all of the students back on campus. Sign Dreamers put it out on Monday, and it made them all happy and got them smiling. They are thrilled to be back at school, so I think it is just an additional way to get them excited,” said Norco Elementary Principal Shannon Diodene.

The faculty had the same reaction, according to Diodene. Several faculty members drove by the school to see what the signs looked like after seeing Sign Dreamers post a preview video on Facebook.

Children at the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf are pictured on a “silly glasses” day. Proceeds from Sign Dreamers business benefits a global cause to provide education to the hearing impaired (Photo from signdreamers.com).

Latonya Hawkins said it is just one example of how Sign Dreamers of River Parish hopes to support the community.

“We just opened on June 22, so we wanted to get the exposure and get our names out there. Then with everything going on with the pandemic and going back to school, we wanted to do a school giveaway so the kids can have something fun to see,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins decided to start a sign business when planning to celebrate her uncle’s 60th birthday in May. She contacted a competitor and learned they were completely booked. Yard greetings have become more popular in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has provided more opportunity to celebrate with signs for drive-by birthday and graduation celebrations. Signs have also been used to honor healthcare heroes and veterans.

Seeing a need for positivity during these difficult times, Hawkins researched yard greeting businesses and found Sign Dreamers, based in Texas. She spoke with CEO of the company and heard its purpose.

According to the company website, Sign Dreamers has a goal to change the world one sign at a time by providing education to the hearing impaired in remote parts of the world.

A percentage of the costs paid for each yard sign supports global partners, including the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf. With a lack of accessibility to resources in public schools, many Jamaican deaf children are overlooked and treated as outcasts. The Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf promotes self-actualization by teaching children that they are just as capable of achieving greatness.

A Welcome Back sign greets students at Norco Elementary. The St. Charles Parish elementary school was the winner of Sign Dreamers of River Parish’s Back to School contest, which also saw participation from St. Charles, St. John and Ascension parishes.

“Speaking with the CEO and hearing the purpose sits really well with me. They have an actual mission and vision with each sign to actually give back. We decided we would become a part of that business,” Hawkins said. “I think what makes us unique is that we are giving back, not just in our local communities, but on a global level as well. Having that impact in society is important to me. In today’s society, unfortunately with all of the social unrest and the pandemic, a lot of people aren’t in the position to give back.”

Sign Dreamers of River Parish has provided signs for birthdays, gender reveals, anniversaries and other popular occasions. One person even asked Hawkins about setting up signs to celebrate a divorce.

One of the most memorable signs thus far went to a young lady who was involved in a boating accident on the Fourth of July. The young woman was hospitalized after the traumatic accident, which left six wounded and one dead.

When she returned home, a beautiful “Welcome Home” sign greeted her.

“The young lady just burst into tears when she saw our sign,” Hawkins said. “It just brightens people’s day. With everything going on in society today, if us putting up a sign saying happy birthday can make someone’s day, I can do that all day every day.”

Sign Dreamers prices start at $85 and include delivery, set-up and pick-up. There are optional upgrades for additional phrases and time beyond 24 hours.

For more information, call 985-231-2665, visit signdreamers.com/sign-dreamers-of-river-parish-la/ or find Sign Dreamers of River Parish on Facebook.