Summer is a great time to take a break from your daily routine, and sit back and reflect. I am excited to relax after a fast-paced schedule filled with travel and tradeshows this year.
I’m currently planning a week’s vacation in Puerto Rico but I’m intrigued by “voluntourism” trips. There are several ventures to choose from through organizations like Hands Up Holidays, a mix of luxury accommodations and sightseeing while helping out the local communities – I may have to book one of those next year! If you have a sustainable sensibility, there’s also the option of staying in an eco-lodge – some are even suspended in the treetops!
Philanthropy / Hands Up Holidays
This adventurous trend is gaining momentum, and often in far-flung locations, but those who want to give back don’t always need to look far from home. Right in our backyard, there are many opportunities to get involved. My colleagues at Architectural Systems and I are deeply involved at the local level. We work on a variety of organizations and projects that support the design community.
BOFFO Building Fashion 2011 installation by Gage/Clemenceau
And we find it fun! Nancy Jackson, president, Architectural Systems, was asked to serve on the board of BOFFO, a non-profit that gives creative talent a space to explore conceptual environments and collaborate with others. Through our work with IIDA NY’s Hospitality Forum, we create programming that educates and inspires. We are also involved with the PAVE Gala, where Nancy served as the long-time co-chair (now VP Emeritus), which encourages young talent to be a part of the retail industry by awarding scholarships through design competitions.
Our student activities extend into the Architectural Systems showroom giving
class tours and donating materials to college projects and libraries like LIM and FIT. These students learn an important lesson outside of the classroom when they visit – the intrinsic value of developing the business relationship between the designer and the material supplier. These pearls of wisdom can ensure that with these strategic partnerships the designer will be successful throughout their career, reflected through the success of their projects.
But as I look back, perhaps our two most touching donations were for a recent Habitat for Humanity project in New York and Holiday House, a Designer Showhouse which supports breast cancer research. It is satisfying to know that our donation of engineered hardwood flooring to a location in Kingston, N.Y. will help them build the local Habitat headquarters and ReStore, which sells used building supplies, furniture, and kitchen goods and serves as an essential revenue stream for the company.
As an inaugural sponsor for Holiday House, our donated materials are used by emerging designers who create fabulous rooms that celebrate the holidays in support of this important cause that touches everyone in some way.
Fun fact: The mansion was also used as the Sex and the City movie set!
"Thanksgiving" designed by Felicia Zwebner featuring Lamellux®
We hope that you are enjoying your summer and taking time to slow to down – whether you find yourself on the beach or building homes with a group like Habitat. What's your escape plan?
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa