Professionals within the international meetings industry came together to complete the first ever IMEX Challenge in Poland in September. The group of industry volunteers declared the three-day experience building a new playground and landscaped garden for a foster family in Poland a “huge and exhilarating success.”
This is a new initiative from leading meetings industry, incentive travel and events exhibition, IMEX, designed to promote the power of corporate social responsibility programs through practical action.
Organized by Jon Bradshaw, business development director for the IMEX Group, the first challenge took place with the generous support of the Convention Bureau of Poland, the Polish Tourist Organization, meeting designers, a children’s foster charity; Our Home, the Warsaw Convention Bureau and Radisson Blu Hotel Krakow.
“For a while we had been eager to set up a charitable project that could allow meetings professionals to offer something to deprived areas and special causes that would directly benefit a host community,” said Bradshaw. “When we learned that a Polish foster family had applied for a grant to create an outside play area for the thirteen children they looked after, it seemed like the perfect time to push ahead and make something happen.”
With the full backing of IMEX, Jon set about recruiting industry professionals willing to offer their time and efforts over the three day project and was delighted to receive offers of help from 10 meetings industry professionals from as far as Dubai, America, Germany, Ireland, Iceland and the UK.
IMEX also sponsored two members of its own staff to volunteer, in addition to Bradshaw. Each volunteer was asked to donate 2,750 Euros to secure their place on the project, none of which was spent on accommodation, food or drink.
Under the terms of the challenge these costs were covered by local supporting partners. This generated a total of 27,500 Euros which includes an ongoing legacy for the upkeep of the playground plus further funds for the children’s special education.
On arriving in Warsaw, the volunteers were greeted by the foster family and each volunteer was given a personalized greeting card made for them by one of the children. The family was then taken on its first ever holiday to Krakow for a few days; the first time that many of the children had ever been on a train. Their accommodation was provided courtesy of the Radisson Blu Hotel.
The industrious team of 22 volunteers, which included local members of the challenge organizing committee and the Our Home charity, then set to work. They devoted 325 hours of manual labor over the next three days, digging and moving two tons of soil, five tons of sand and two tons of woodchip by hand to create a play area “fit for young kings and queens.”
Thanks to the volunteers’ hard work, the new playground and garden now has its own summer house, play-ship, rock garden plus a commemorative plaque bearing the names of the volunteers who made the IMEX Challenge in Poland happen. The area has also been planted with a variety of new plants and flowers.
“The response we got from the children on discovering their new garden was extremely touching and, as with all the other volunteers, I know the memories and feel-good factor will stay with me forever. What better way to open the garden than to spend the afternoon playing with the children in their new wonderland before the father and one of the daughters led us in a sing-song with a mix of Polish and English songs. A great cause, a great group of people and a great experience never to be forgotten.” said Bradshaw.
Krzysztof Celuch, Manager of Convention Bureau of Poland, said: “This was a really important event to show that CSR activities can be organised well in Poland, and through its meetings and events community. It was a pleasure to help local people and the added value of helping children was just precious.”
|People on the Move|