Community Projects Interview – IMEX Group
This is part one of our two part interview focusing on the impact of community projects. We hope the insights and perspectives here will inspire you and your organization to create your own community legacy project. This interview focuses on IMEX Group and The Shade Tree. Click here to read part two which focuses on McDonald’s and Clean the World.
MG: Describe one of your best legacy projects.
Dale Hudson, Knowledge and Events Director, IMEX Group : I love all our legacy projects – The Shade Tree, Opportunity Village and Clean the World. However, for the purpose of this interview I am going to focus on the Shade Tree as this is the beneficiary we have selected for the IMEX Challenge 2014.
MG: What makes it stand out?
Dale: The amazing work they are doing with women, children and animals that are in abusive situations. The fact that they have various types of services and programs to ensure that every person coming there has a chance to change their lives from workforce readiness to life skills to taking in the animals along with their people, and so much more!
MG: How did you find the organization you partnered with? How did you choose?
Dale: When we first decided to have IMEX in Las Vegas, we knew that we wanted to support some of the local projects/programs that were established in Vegas and that perhaps needed some help. We do the same in Frankfurt with two projects and it is just something IMEX feels is the right thing to do. The Las Vegas Convention Bureau helped us identify some of the projects that might need our assistance.
For the IMEX Challenge 2014, we knew we wanted to support The Shade Tree because they need the most help. They have a garden that is in disrepair and we really want to make this garden beautiful and usable again, turn it into a healing garden.
MG: How was it funded?
Dale: We have various funding sources for the different projects. For example, with the badge back scheme, IMEX donates money to Shade Tree and Opportunity Village when delegates who attend IMEX place their badges in the badge back collection bins. These badges are then donated to the Teachers Exchange. We were also very fortunate to have MeetGreen® sponsor the Clean the World amenities at IMEX America this year, where the hygiene kits that were made on the Clean the World stand were donated to Shade Tree.
Of course for the IMEX Challenge 2014 we are very grateful to Sands Cares and also GES. Both are the host sponsors for the IMEX Challenge. Sands Cares have very kindly sponsored materials, the design and horticultural staff to help create the healing garden. GES built some beautiful sheds that Shade Tree desperately needed for Noah’s Ark (the animal shelter) and for general storage.
MG: How did having the legacy project affect your event?
Dale: We have been doing the Challenge now for 6 years – the first one was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the second in Poland and the third in Slovenia. These projects were absolutely amazing and helped so many people, however, we did feel that the Challenge needed to be brought closer to the local communities where we actually hold IMEX. Therefore, we decided to bring the Challenge to Vegas in 2014. As it has not happened yet, I am not sure how it will affect the event. What I am hoping for is a greater sense of community, people connecting through doing something good together, and good networking for the sponsors who take part in the Challenge. There are just so many things a project like this could contribute, and I guess we shall see next year just what those are.
MG: What type of attendee/participant feedback have you received?
Dale: We launched the Challenge at IMEX America this year and there has been an amazing amount of interest. However, as yet no one has actually registered for the Challenge. We’re sincerely hoping people take advantage of the variety of sponsorship opportunities – Corporate – gold and silver. Individual or just cash contribution to be a part of this chance to change lives. I shall be following up with those people who expressed interest in the next few weeks. Let me know if you want to be one of them! Click here for information about the IMEX Challenge.
MG: What were the outcomes/results/benefits to the recipients?
Dale: The outcomes will be – a beautiful healing garden at Shade Tree. The money for sponsorship will also go straight to Shade Tree. Shade Tree really needs this money for the running costs of all the great rehabilitation programs they offer, food, diapers, you name it they need it. The ultimate goal of course is to ensure women and children have a safe place to heal, feel whole and become valued members of their community. Everyone needs to feel a sense of worth and I believe that the Shade Tree really does give this.
The Shade Tree
MG: How did the partnership with the IMEX America organization come about?
DeAndre Esteen Director of Development, The Shade Tree: The partnership between IMEX and The Shade Tree began in 2011. IMEX wanted to support a local charity during their annual global conference and the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority suggested us.
MG: What were the initial perceived benefits? What were the actual benefits, if different?
DeAndre Esteen: Since that time, IMEX has donated close to $10,000 by way of the badge back program and hundreds of hygiene kits provided by Clean the World. The perceived and actual benefits are both more than we have ever thought and assist us with changing the lives of the women, children, and pets that we serve.
MG: Are there any long term benefits or lasting impacts?
DeAndre: Being able to change lives through basic needs (such as hygiene items), and being able to provide services such as resume building, job development and life skills education is a gift that our donors and volunteers help us provide. Without them, we cannot fulfill our mission. Each year, IMEX walks this journey with us and helps us change lives for the better.
MG: Would you consider it a successful partnership?
DeAndre: This is a wonderful partnership, yes!
MG: What would you say to others looking for legacy projects in the communities where they meet?
DeAndre: More and more companies are gathering in cities and adding volunteer projects and components to their visit. It shows that these agencies are looking to give back and make the most of their visit. Our friends at IMEX noticed a need, and answered the call to action. We encourage others to do so, and find a cause that is close to their hearts, and build a project through volunteerism.
As part of the project, IMEX Group also donated a painting to The Shade Tree for their Children’s Activity Center. James Trevino, Youth Services Supervisor, said:
“The painting donated by IMEX is such a magnificent addition to The Children’s Activity Center. It is just the perfect fit, since all the children are able to enjoy and ask questions about “the jungle,” as many of them call it. I feel that it is not only stimulating for our children, but it makes the atmosphere more vibrant. The greatest part of the painting is that it will be enjoyed for many years to come!”