Who We Are

The Giggle Box Project was conceived in 2009 by our founder and current executive director, Susan Dempsey and is still in the early stages of development, seeking grants and donations to fulfill our mission of reawakening the life-giving power of Joy through laughter and play. We are creating a cohesive team, as well as developing new relationships all the time, with like-minded individuals who are inspired to jump on the Giggle Bus!

We have come a long way since the inception. We purchased and painted "Giggles" the Giggle Bus in September of 2010 and have been on a roll (haha) ever since taking part in many community-wide events, sharing our mission and spreading joy and smiles.

Our first few years were primarily devoted to research and development. There has been an incredible amount of time spent behind the scenes, developing policies and engaging a Board of Directors inspired by our mission, as well as researching toys, boxes, hospital policies and connections and fulfilling state and federal requirements for non-profits. We became an agency partner of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks in 2011 and filed for our own tax-exempt status in April of 2013 and are still awaiting response from the IRS. Guessing they are overworked there!

In 2013 we finally delivered our first Gigglebox and since have be able to continue to do so for the children at Mercy Childrenís Hospital in Springfield, MO, our home. Our plans include expanding the Giggleboxes we are able to donate throughout Missouri and then on to our neighboring states regionally and eventually nationally.

We are also developing other programs concurrently for seniors and other at risk populations hoping to empower all to choose connection, joy and fun over anger, resentment, worry and sorrow.

We are always seeking volunteers to help us obtain donations and grants, and to help us at events where we can educate the public about the project and its mission. Weíd love to have your smiling face as part of our team. Bringing to joy sick kids inevitably brings joy to your own life, as well. Please visit our 'Contact Us' page to get in touch.

Meet the Giggle Box Team

The Giggle Box "Gigglers"

Some of our dedicated volunteers.
Springfield, MO
Holiday Parade 2010

"Giggles" the Giggle Bus

Our 1974 Argosy Motorhome. She travels around Missouri to help spread the word about the healing properties of laughter while bringing joy to kids of all ages!

Dottie Mullikin

A native Springfieldian who has been passionate in caring for children both professionally and personally, Dottie Mullikin has been a pioneer in many ways: she was the first Episcopal nun graduate of Brandeis University, a predominantly Jewish institution, then continued with a Masterís from Boston University. Ms. Mullikin was the first Executive Director of residential treatment facility for girls with special needs in the greater Boston area, was the Chief Operating Officer of a pediatric hospital for children with special needs in Canton, Massachusetts before returning home to Springfield.

She and her husband, Ed, adopted a sibling group of 5 children - the largest group ever placed in Massachusetts at that time, and went on to add 2 more children to their family. She was the founder of Ozarks Fighting Back and the first Director of Community Partnership. She was an inaugural member of the Mayorís Commission for Children and a founding member of the Board of the Child Advocacy Center. More recently she was Director of Prevention for the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the first Director of Mental Health First Aid - part of the national team to bring this program to the United States.

A trademark of Ms. Mullikinís career has been the ability to work collaboratively, facilitate programs that have received state and national recognition, keep programs focused on people with heart and dignity, and have fun in the process. She learned the importance of humor from her mother and has used it effectively to bring relief to stressful situations at home and in the workplace. "A day is wasted when you have not laughed."

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, itís a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope and that enables you to laugh at lifeís realities." - Dr. Seuss

Maya Angelou has said: Iíve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. If you can laugh with people, you connect without regard for wealth, social standing, color of skin, political affiliation. Laughter enables us simply to be people with one another.

Jan Massey

I have been involved with The GiggleBox Project since the beginning, believing in the power of laughter, in many different ways. I have been a medical Social Worker in hospice care for 25 years and have experienced families crying and laughing as they travel through an illness with a loved one. I have always felt so privileged when I was able to share that intimacy with a patient and their family. The GiggleBox Project is sharing laughter in other special times of life.

I am blessed with a healthy family, friends and a lovely neighborhood community.

I enjoy nature and benefit from its simplicity and depth.

Pamela Brennaman

Every day I hear the words "I just love your laugh". Itís a great thing to be known by the sound of your laughter! And yes, mine carries well. I try to laugh at least 100 times a day, as I hear that is the same as working out for 20 minutes! I believe life is easier when you choose laughter again and again during the day. For over 11 years Iíve been a realtor in the Springfield area, led singing in the Unity Sunday School for 7 years, and help make quilts through Comforts from the Heart for the homeless, Rare Breed, Newborns and Hospice clients. I believe that everything you do should be done with joy. I am grateful to be a part of the Giggle Box Project. Itís all about giving!

Iíve owned my own businesses most of my life. I graduated from Oklahoma State University in Management Science and Computer Programming. These have helped me in keeping the business of laughter going.

Lynn Henninger

Currently I work full time at Mercy Health Services. My background is mostly data entry with several years of A/P and A/R thrown in. I am currently posting cash to patient accounts. Also, my forte is creating a process for the work we do.

Outside of work I hold a leadership position in my church and coordinate a seminar once a year for the clergy members. I am also a clergy member, so I do quite a bit of work with my church.

Springfield Metro Chorus is a new Sweet Adeline chorus I helped found. Weíve been to competition the last 4 years, and have won medals all four years! Last year we won first place small chorus and 3rd place overall in the Region qualifying us to compete at International in November 2014!! I am the Bass section leader, I was the Team Lead (president), the secretary, and membership chair over the past 4 years. I love to sing!!

On a more personal note, I am married to a wonderful man who loves me unconditionally. I have a son who has given me 2 granddaughters and 1 grandson and 3 step-granddaughters! He just opened a store with a partner in Minnesota, and after their first month in business they were able to pay all the bills! They arenít getting paid yet, but things look hopeful! Jack (my hubby) has 2 sons, one of which is living with us now (he came back home; imagine that!). He is a writer, and he cooks at TGI Fridayís on Glenstone. Jackís other son lives in Montana and is a police officer there.

Laughter is a great part of all aspects of my life. Without laughter the workplace is a cold, dreary place; church is a duty rather than a privilege; singing becomes a drudge; and family is just a bunch of people thrown together without heart. Laugher is the heart of life!

Debby Steinhoff
Volunteer Coordinator

Hi, My name is Debby Steinhoff. I am a long time resident of the Springfield MO area and I absolutely love life in the Ozarks! My work background is everything from Inventory Control/Accounting to Direct Sales and Sales Management. My most current endeavor is Brand Partner with Nerium International, where I can pursue my passion of personal development and "Making People Better"! My true claim to fame however, are my 4 wonderful adult children and the blessings of my beautiful grandchildren.

I have loved and supported the Gigglebox Project since it's start and I am now thrilled to be serving as board member. The mission of the project is a true inspiration for me. I am pleased to be allowed to bring my time and talents to this project and I Love the Fun and Laughter. To see the transformation of lives we touch through Joy is truly the contact we are all meant to experience as we journey through this life. Smiles and Laughter are the universal language of the world.

It is my privilege to be a part of this project and help the expansion and growth throughout the community and the world, Lets Play!!

Susan J. Dempsey
Executive Director/Founder

I am originally from outside of Detroit, MI and have lived in the Ozarks for over 30 years. Retired Dairy Farmer and Avatar Master, Mother of two Magnificent Kids and Grandmother to the coolest boy on the planet, I was inspired to create The Giggle Box Project during my studies to become a Certified Laughter Leader (CLL) and Certified Laughter Yoga Leader (CLYL). As Executive Director my job description includes fundraising, project development, client relations, event coordinator and being the inspiration for her childrenís and volunteersí humor!

I have always known that we are meant to feel good and be happy and after spending many years being depressed, worried and fearful, I finally couldnít take it anymore. The definition of "Insanity", doing the same thing over and over expecting different results resembles my youth. Something had to change and I set out on a path of self-therapy, that has changed everything! Coming from a family not afraid to LAUGH OUT LOUD, it only makes sense that this path would find me. I feel so blessed to have been given this mission. Have fun, itís your choice! Love and Hugs, Susan (Bubbles)