Updated July 31 at 3:31pm

Five Questions With: Johanna Corcoran

Founder of Familytopia talks about her company, which uses workshops to help families and business peacefully co-exist.

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Five Questions With: Johanna Corcoran

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Johanna Corcoran founded Familytopia, a Johnston-based company that uses workshops to help families and business peacefully co-exist, among other things, in 2009 after facing struggles upon returning to work after two years after her daughter Ellorie, now 7, was born.

The firm also incorporates a strong philanthropic element, running the Doll Stroll in which children walk to raise funds for charities of their choice with their dolls.

The Doll Stroll is being held Oct. 13 at the Wide World of Indoor Sports in North Kingstown and ends with a party for the children.

PBN: Johanna, this summer you are running the Philanthro-Kids Summer Project in which children, ages 4-10, register for the Doll Stroll and spend the summer creating a plan to fundraise for that organization. What inspired this?

CORCORAN: When I work with parents, they often share frustration because when they look for ways to involve their children in charitable service there are often minimum age requirements. I believe that the children in this generation will help solve many of our world’s problems. The more opportunities we can create for them to engage now, and build empathy, the more likely they will be to help when they are adults.

PBN: Do you believe engaging young children in charitable work can build a foundation for lifelong citizenship?

CORCORAN: Absolutely. Engaging kids early empowers them to assume the role of change agent from an early age. One of the most important ways to nurture that seed is to help them see the tangible ways that their support makes a difference. When kids can say “I did that!” that little seed starts to grow. We water it with praise and visible results.

PBN: What are some small things employers can do to accommodate families that won’t affect their daily production schedules?

CORCORAN: I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of Rhode Island’s employers on this very issue. The stress that working parents face does affect work performance and productivity. We’ve had great results with on-site parenting support programs during break times and lunch hours. When parents are given the opportunity to stay at work and hear a presentation about a hot-button parenting topic…they feel supported by their employer.

PBN: On the other side, what can parents do to help themselves stay focused at work without sacrificing family time and attention?

CORCORAN: This can be difficult for any mom or dad. A fun communication ritual is ‘Talk Box,’ a decorated shoebox [where] family members can [put] comments, suggestions, kudos or gripes. Once a week, the family goes through the ‘Talk Box’ entries and chats…which helps us feel connected and good about the job we are doing as parents. Then we can focus on our other responsibilities secure with the knowledge that we are doing all we can to raise great kids.

PBN: Why do you feel the Doll Stroll will be a successful event?

CORCORAN: It’s my favorite type of project! A “win-win-win.” Nonprofits win because they receive funds to further their mission and hopefully create loyal, future donors. Parents win because they help their children develop useful skills (confidence, empathy, creative thinking.) Kids win because they feel empowered, confident and great about themselves – and they get to attend a party in their honor!

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