On a sunny afternoon, 13 of us board a bus that will take us from The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, in the French Quarter, to the lower ninth ward. I'm along for the ride and eager to take part in a service project that Appleton, Wis.–based meeting management company Creative Group Inc. has organized as part of its annual sales meeting—painting a home that was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina
As we pull up, representatives from HandsOn New Orleans, the group facilitating the project, are on the lawn to greet us with paint and supplies. Also there is Mr. Stevenson, the homeowner who has endured challenge after challenge trying to get back into his home. He lives with one of his sons in a trailer beside the house, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and after telling the group what he has been through, expresses sincere thanks for the help.
The group wastes no time getting to work. The energy is palpable. Account Executive Brian Frame has prepared a playlist of music to keep the mood lively, and everybody—including Creative Group CEO Ron Officer—rolls up their sleeves.
The company is no stranger to community service. "We have been organizing service projects for our clients for a few years now," says Brad Langley, president and COO. "They want to give back and leave a positive impact on the communities they are meeting in."
Before we know it, it's time to clean up. As we head off, Mr. Stevenson's son shyly steps onto the bus. "I just want to shake each one of your hands," he says, and he proceeds to do just that.—Rachel Eccles
Creative Group Named to the 2009 CMI 25