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Help YOUR Community Champion

There is only one thing as good as making a difference in your community – helping your community champion who goes above and beyond to inspire and make lives better. Royal Neighbors members have a unique opportunity to support local community champions by nominating them for a Nation of NeighborsSM empowerment grant. 

Olivia Smithberger ‘sweetens’ the lives of others

Sep 27, 2017
Shown above with the $10,000 check are, left to right, Amy Jones, Royal Neighbors of America Director of Philanthropy; Joy Shaffer, Shelly Averette, Antoinette Johnson, Becca March; Olivia Smithberger, Mary Irwin, Beth Cross, and Jeanette Jordan.


Olivia Smithberger, Portsmouth, Virginia, started her tenure with the HER (Help and Emergency Response, Inc.) Shelter as a college intern. From there she moved up to the children’s coordinator, and today she is the client services director. In this position, she works with two area shelters and a 24-hour hotline that provide resources, advocacy and leadership to survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking.

The $10,000 Nation of Neighbors℠ grant she received will help expand Sweet Haven, a cupcake bakery created four years ago to help women gain motivation, certification, kitchen skills, and self-esteem. “We realized the importance of workforce development so we knew we needed to offer a product that was easily reproducible, something that wouldn’t break the bank and something people actually want,” says Olivia. “Cupcakes won out. One of the biggest challenges for me was learning to bake and ice cupcakes!"

Word of mouth and social media have led to the popularity of Sweet Haven in the Portsmouth area. Approximately 3,000 cupcakes are delivered to customers every week.

Sweet treats from Sweet Haven Bakery.

“The whole shelter was so surprised and excited about this grant,” said Olivia. “It will help with the food truck we recently acquired and with funding a business development and marketing position. The more successful Sweet Haven is, the more opportunity for us to give women a leg up to rebuild their lives.”

Form #: P00261; Rev. 12-2017
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Insuring Lives Supporting Women Serving CommunitiesSM
Form #: P00314; Rev. 11-2019