Samantha Whitehorne is deputy editor of Associations Now in Washington, DC.
With the launch of the Meetings Industry Fund, several industry leaders hope to help meeting professionals in crisis. The fund will provide assistance to those who may require financial assistance following a medical emergency or sudden job loss.
Everyone goes through hard times. With that in mind, several prominent meetings industry leaders have launched the Meetings Industry Fund, a new 501(c)(3) foundation with a mission to help industry professionals in crisis.
The fund will provide financial assistance to individuals who are directly involved in the planning, execution, delivery, and support of meetings. For example, if a meeting professional is out of work and suddenly faces a medical emergency, the fund will be there to help out.
The fund was cofounded by David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Travel Company; Susan Sarfati, CAE, CEO of High Performance Strategies; Heather Burkee Scherer, president of ATC Travel Management; Neal Couture, director of government procurement law and business programs at the George Washington University Law School; and Chuck Fazio, industry photographer and artist-in-residence at American Forests.
"Our industry is made up of amazing people and organizations that do fantastic work on behalf of our industry," Peckinpaugh says. "The one gap we noticed was for an organized effort to help out individuals in crisis, and the Meetings Industry Fund is all about them. We know our industry will pitch in to help our colleagues who have short-term financial needs."
The fund, which launched in September, had an initial goal to raise $100,000 in its first 100 days.
"I have witnessed firsthand the kindness and generosity of industry friends to each other in times of crisis," Scherer says. "Through a collaborative effort, we hope to provide an even greater level of support to our friends in need."
The fund's website—www.themeetingsindustryfund.org—has details on how to donate and how to apply for assistance.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Helping Hand."]