Giving Back

Experient’s Packed Lunches Make a Big Impact

Experient's Pack for Impact does just that, making a positive impact on the local Denver community — and on the industry volunteers who participate in the annual event.

Experient’s Yurii Land, left, and Gary Schirmacher, right, present a $9,500 check to Kim Ruotsala, vice president of development for Food Bank of the Rockies.

Before Conferon became Experient, the event-management company hosted the Conferon Classic, an annual fundraiser that was “basically a reception,” said Experient Strategic Account Manager Yurii Land, CMP. Industry patrons — suppliers, hotels, and several CVBs, including Denver’s — donated money to the Food Bank of the Rockies’ Kids’ Café program, which serves balanced meals to children in need in the Denver metro community.

While the Conferon Classic was a nice industry get-together and a successful fundraiser for a good cause, over the 10 years that Conferon hosted the event, “it kind of fizzled,” Land said. “We just decided — how can we make this more meaningful? It’s almost like at your meetings [where you ask yourself], how can I make this refreshing and new?”

Wanting “to provide a deeper experience for people rather than just going to a reception,” Land said, he volunteered to chair a hands-on event at the Food Bank, where industry people could come together to fill bags with food for the Kids’ Café program. Pack for Impact has become a favorite among Experient clients as well as hotel and supplier partners who participate in and sponsor the event.

At the 5th Annual Pack for Impact, held this past July 31, more than 60 industry volunteers packed 1,400 bags of food — purchased by the Food Bank through the sponsorship dollars raised by Land and his co-workers — in just over one hour.

Why an hour? Land said that he and his team wanted to add “a little Experient twist” to the event to make it more fun. So they challenged four teams that they had assigned — with a mix of suppliers and planners in each — to a race against the clock to see which team could fill 350 bags first. Each bag — a leftover registration bag donated by planners — was filled with enough wholesome food to feed a child and family members for a weekend.

Over the past 15 years that Land and his colleagues have been raising funds for the Food Bank, contributions have added up to nearly $108,000. “We’ve built a tremendous amount of support from our partners,” Land said. “One of our biggest sponsors has been the Denver CVB. Every year, they’ve committed to giving $3,000, even going back to the Conferon Classic.”

Pack for Impact participants get to see — and handle — all of the food that the event’s sponsorship dollars have purchased, and that leaves a mark. “I get people from the Food Bank to speak at the beginning of our event, so that people can really understand the meaning of what they’re doing,” Land said. “When they hear the staggering statistics” about hunger and how their efforts will help out more than a thousand families, he said, “you get some tears going on.”

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.