Laughing to Live

By Marie Leopardo
Distribution Manager

They say that laughter is the best medicine, and Jeannine Luby is certainly doing her part to prove that. A Marywood alumna, she has created a business in Clarks Summit called Laugh to Live (www.laughtolive.net). It began as a project for her graduate degree that premiered here at Marywood University two years ago. It was set up as a non-profit fundraiser for the Humor Therapy Fund. Jeanine Luby had specifically requested to set up the fund herself, with help from the Scranton Area Foundation (www.safdn.org).

Ms. Luby found research about the health benefits of humor and laughter for a research class. “Comedy was like a big part of my life already,” she said. With her comedy improvisation background, she felt it only made sense for her to turn it into a project for her degree. It was something she really cared about.

“I was truly passionate, so it was easy to put the hard work into it.” She was very proud about it turned out, but didn’t even imagine that the following year she’d be turning it into a business. She wanted to make a transition in her life and at the same time and create something that she’d be happy doing. She figured that she could earn a living and still do something meaningful for people.

The benefit in November of 2005 raised about $2,000 for the Humor Therapy Fund. The money from the fundraiser was then used the following spring 2006 to have a workshop for social workers and teachers about how to use humor in their everyday lives for themselves and for the people they work with. The project was so successful that she used the positive feedback as a sort of “catalyst” in choosing to start a part-time business because she felt she had more to give and it inspired and motivated her. The Humor Therapy Fund still exists as a non-profit fund and anyone can donate to it by contacting the Scranton Area Foundation.

Ms. Luby said that life is so full of stress and negativity that there’s not one person who doesn’t need positive laughter and fun in their life.

Marywood was a big help when it came to promoting the event. Dr. Paulette Merchel was Ms. Luby’s advisor and served as a great help in giving her advice and attending the event itself. Dr. Merchel helped to find undergraduates to serve as crew. Marywood also gave her the space to run her workshop in the spring of 2006. The workshop was paid for by the fall fundraiser. The Continuing Education Department helped to promote the workshop as well, by identifying people who could benefit from it.

When asked what advice she could give to students, she said, “Try not to take no for an answer; especially if you have great ideas and creative thoughts, because a lot of people will say, ‘Oh well I guess you’re gonna just have to do something else or do it the way it’s been done.’ You don’t have to. If you push hard enough, and if people believe in something you know and have a passion for, just push and try and get it as far as you can, because you can make things happen.”

After finishing her graduate degree at Marywood, she was inspired to do more work to promote the benefits of humor and laughter and wanted to attempt to make a living at it so she decided to keep the name Laugh to Live and register it as her business’ name. She still has her day job in healthcare communications.

In the next year and a half, her goals for this part-time business are to keep it continually growing the way it has been. She says there really is a market for this because there is no one else that does humor therapy in the area, and that, “laughter is good for kids, it’s good for seniors, its good for young people; people of every age.” In the workplace, staff for corporations basically need anything that they can in order to help them reduce stress and to feel better, with that in mind, she wants to reach out to more corporations. She has already produced lunchtime laughter sessions for various companies’ staff, she has also done events at Miseracordia and Marywood. She wants to focus more on corporate events in the next year.

This month, she has two laughter session events coming up. On Wednesday February 20th, she will be at Everything Natural at 6:30 p.m., on State Street in Clarks Summit. And on Thursday, February 28 at Be In The Pink at 6:30 PM, on South Main Street in Old Forge. It is $15 per class for each and you can call 570-650-7518 to reserve your spot for either event.