Early Tuesday morning, Frank Hager looked out his window to see a large sign in his retirement home’s courtyard that read “Happy 100th Birthday Frank.”
Surrounding the sign was the Stevens family. Hager didn’t know them, but they had just finished placing the sign, plus decorative stars and an Air Force logo, for Hager, a veteran living under quarantine.
Last month, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Stevenses opened Card My Yard Spokane, a franchise of a Texas company that rents personalized yard signs.
The Stevenses started the process of franchising a few months ago, before coronavirus was on anyone’s radar. Now the family of seven wakes up early nearly every morning, piles into their car and places signs in customers’ yards to help them celebrate big moments.
“It just makes a birthday a little more special in a time where celebrations can’t happen,” Laura Stevens said.
Stevens and her husband, John, both work full time for Isagenix, a wellness company, but after moving back to Spokane in November, they wanted to start a business.
“We were stationed here with the military and fell in love,” Laura said.
Her husband was an officer in the Marines. The couple was last stationed in Omaha, Nebraska, where their neighbors had a Card My Yard franchise.
The Stevenses had no idea coronavirus would cancel birthday parties, graduation celebrations and other gatherings just weeks before they opened for business.
“It literally was just really awesome timing, unknowingly, to help people during this time,” Laura said.
For the Stevenses’ young children, Scarlett, Miller, Juliette, Violette and Asher, the business has become a lesson in hard work and entrepreneurship.
“It’s really fun doing it with them and I’m happy that it makes other people happy,” said Miller, 8.
Card My Yard signs start at $50 and can be up from 24 hours to five days. The signs are weatherproof and customizable.
After the pandemic subsides, Laura said they hope to partner with other local businesses to put together party packages. The Stevenses are also working on getting high school logos printed to use for graduations and other school events.
John is ex-military, and the Stevenses have done multiple signs for families at Fairchild Air Force Base. They even have the logos for different branches of the military.
Hager is a retired lieutenant colonel who served for 22 years, including in World War II.
The staff at Fairwinds-Spokane has grown fond of Hager over the 17 years he has lived there and wanted to do something special to celebrate his centennial, especially since visitors are prohibited from the facility.
“He’s such a funny guy – just always positive and cheerful,” said Merisa Hadziomerovic, guest services manager. “He loves to make people laugh and encourage others to do well.”
Hadziomerovic said it was essential to help Hager celebrate, despite the ongoing quarantine.
“With the different times now, we just kind of … were looking of ideas of something different to do,” Hadziomerovic said. “We thought it’d be perfect, just something to surprise him.”
When Hadziomerovic called Card My Yard, Laura listened to their plan for Hager’s birthday and immediately said they would bring a sign over at no charge.
Hager said he had just woken up when Hadziomerovic popped into his room and told him to look out the window.
“This family of little kids and all were setting it up,” Hager said. “It was just a wonderful effort on their part.”
Hager waved and blew kisses to the Stevenses down below.
“It’s a good celebration for someone who is under quarantine and can’t do much else,” Hager said.
Now, Hager said everyone else at Fairwinds knows it’s his big 100th birthday.
“I’m only going to have one of those,” Hager said with a laugh.
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