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Confessions of an MPI Volunteer

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By: Darlene Kelly Stewart | Jan 31, 2023

Part 1 - Finding your Path

I knew I wanted this career path, before I even knew it was a career path. I knew I liked people, I liked having fun, I liked doing interesting things and I wanted other people to have a great time too. Back ‘in the day’ (aka High School) I was part of several committees and clubs, and to no one’s surprise, I liked to ‘organize’. Dances, cast parties, bake sales, graduation parties, cross border ski trips, themed house parties, epic cottage weekends, Road Rallies, nights out, all of it. Fast forward 40+ years, you’ll never guess what I am doing now? (Yes, I have always been sarcastic too!) My path took a purposeful route, HAFA at University of Guelph, then I climbed the experience ladder in hotels starting in the laundry, food service, front desk, reservations, sales, national sales, global sales, flipped to the bright side as a planner for meetings, conferences, events of every shape and size, where I could once again ‘Organize’.

I know some people in our industry find their way here by happy accident, they were doing something else, when ‘another duty as assigned’ landed on their desk, or circumstances presented opportunities that were interesting and unknown and they discovered they were good at it and stayed with it.

No matter how we have found ourselves here, no matter what our roles or responsibilities are, we have found our community. And this community sustains us, gives us purpose, helps us achieve our goals, gives us challenges, delivers disappointments and provides us with joy. If we are really in it, we gather together and unite by joining an association, committees and clubs. There is no better umbrella for this than MPI. MPI brings us all together.

Volunteer Quote

We hear, ‘the more you give and commit to your membership, the greater your satisfaction and experience will be’. This is so true. You can gain so much by simply participating in chapter events, more still by helping create experiences for your colleagues, by leading your colleagues and learning from your colleagues. I have been so fortunate to have been part of my chapter for over 20 years. I waffled a bit, then I started on a committee and was happy there. As my career and confidence grew, I took on more responsibilities and eventually moved to the Board level then Chapter President, then returned to committee work. I did it all and I am thankful for the opportunity to have done so and still volunteer simply as an editor for my chapter communication committee. My experience encourages me to give others the space to grow and occasion to build their careers and support them along their own path to success. It’s not that I have given up my participation, I have simply chosen to pull over, no longer leading the local charge, but supporting others to fill in and carry on. Don’t worry, I am right behind you.

By stepping aside, I have found a new trail to follow and think this path should come into a brighter light. I know the constant throughout my career, that helped me stay the course and steady the ladder, has been MPI. And by extension the MPI Foundation. Throughout the years the Foundation has played its role as mainly a silent partner, contributing to the success of so many.

MPI Foundation_logo_2021

The MPI Foundation has been part of our MPI Community since the 1980s. Since its inception the primary purpose of the MPI Foundation has been to advance our industry by strengthening our community. This is accomplished by providing funds by way of grants and scholarships for education and research that drives the success of meeting professionals. The recipients of these funds are MPI Chapters, MPI Members and organizations who provide research in such forms as economic impact reports, demonstrating the overall value and contribution this industry has on the larger population and economies of various regions and countries.

In recent years, the Foundation has been a pillar in our community helping sustain members and chapters through the pandemic and into recovery. This isn’t just professional, it’s personal. Since 2020, the Foundation has provided assistance to over 2225 people with scholarships totaling over $700K (USD), $561K in Industry grants and $20K in chapter grants. They have also spearheaded targeted campaigns such as supporting education grants for Ukrainian students during this time of conflict. The bottom line is this, the MPI Foundation has funds to spend to support this community to be better, smarter, stronger, provide knowledge and impact in our daily lives. The simple request in return is that we donate funds to the MPI Foundation for our own greater benefit. Whether the donation is $20 or $20,000 or more. These funds are used and distributed and appreciated.

This is why they ask for your consideration and ask that you donate to the MPI Foundation. You are asked to: “Donate to Participate; Give a Little Love; Give a Little to Get a Lot; Help Me, Help You to Help US”. Whatever the current campaign, annual donation or ad hoc opportunity presented; the request is sincere and heartfelt. The Foundation is here to make a difference and to advance our community.

MPIF Canadian Council Logo (1)
Although I am forever a chapter volunteer, I have a found a new spark and a new passion for the MPI Foundation. I am the current Chair of the MPI Foundation Canada Council and a member of the Global Board of Trustees for the MPI Foundation. Fancy titles don’t change the core of the work ahead but simply alter the purpose.  So, guess what I get to do now? Yup, you guessed it, ‘Organize!

Darlene _Kelly-Stewart_448x252Article edited by: Darlene Kelly-Stewart, Stonehouse Sales & Marketing Services, & 2023 Chair, Canada Council, MPI Foundation



Darlene _Kelly-Stewart_448x252
Darlene Kelly Stewart

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