Washington, DC (September 07, 2012) — As students across America head back to the classroom, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) commends its members for the significant contributions they make to support educational initiatives around the country – from supplying backpacks to funding students studying hospitality in college.
“It’s amazing to see all of the incredible charitable and community initiatives our members engage in,” says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. “It’s clear that education is a priority and we’re proud to highlight a sample of the support our industry is providing.”
One example is with Orlando-based Club Meliá by Meliá Hotels International, a leading international vacation membership club with locations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and Europe. They partner with Orange County Public Schools for its Community Resources Backpack Project, donating 120 backpacks and mouse pads for students in need.
“We are excited to participate in this wonderful community program and be a part of what Orange County Public Schools does to make a meaningful difference in the success of students and teachers,” said Denis Ebrill, Executive Vice President, Club Meliá.
Orange County, located in Florida, is the 10th largest public school system in the nation, supporting more than 180,000 students and 182 schools. The Community Resources Partners in Education program has promoted business partnerships with schools since 1980. “We welcome Club Meliá as a new community contributor and thank them for their generosity,” said Pamela Carson, Sr. Manager for Community Resources at Orange County Public Schools. “Their gift is an investment in our children and in the community’s future.”
In addition, Disney Vacation Club, in conjunction with the Company’s Disney VoluntEARS, is very involved with the public schools in the communities where is has operations, including Orlando, Anaheim, Vero Beach, Hilton Head and Hawaii. Some programs supported include backpack programs, school breakfast programs, Junior Achievement, A Gift for Music (supplies instruments and instruction in music), A Gift for Teaching (supplies teachers with materials like notebooks, pens, art supplies).
Bluegreen Resorts has again worked with SOS Children’s Villages annual “Back to School and Ready” Campaign, for the fifth straight year. The Bluegreen Employee Action Resource (BEAR) Team collected and delivered donations of school supplies to the foster care neighborhood in Coconut Creek, Florida based on a wish list provided by their children.
At the college level, Interval International has made a long-term commitment to investing in education because the company recognizes the important role it plays in developing the next generation of hospitality industry professionals.
As a strategic partner of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and a board member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Interval and its resort partners have donated more than $400,000 to both organizations’ educational foundations over the past 13 years. These scholarship funds help students pursue an education in hospitality and increases their awareness about career opportunities available within the industry.
Similarly, Interval has endowed a scholarship fund at Florida International University’s School of Hospitality Management for students to attend courses in timeshare resort management. As part of the curriculum, members of Interval’s management team conduct lectures and host tours of the Miami-based Member-Services Center. Students also are invited to attend workshops and panel discussions led by experts at Interval’s annual Shared Ownership Investment Conference, an industry-leading educational forum.
“Our partnerships allow us to collaborate with tourism leaders and resort clients and play an active role in facilitating opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in hospitality,” said Jan Wyatt, Interval’s vice president of corporate marketing. “A skilled workforce is vital to the continued growth of the shared ownership industry.”
As part of an ongoing commitment to support children, Wyndham Vacation Ownership(WVO) has renewed its support of Step Up For Students for the second year in a row with a pledge of $750,000. Step Up for Students is a nonprofit organization that offers scholarships aimed at providing learning options for economically disadvantaged children in Florida. ¬WVO’s contribution will fund more than 167 scholarships in the coming year to allow at-risk students to receive a quality education that best meets their needs.
The company’s support of children and education is also evident in its three-year partnership with The Fishing School. The Fishing School is a non-profit youth development organization that provides academic and cultural enrichment support to children and families in Washington, D.C., based on the “Teach a Man to Fish” premise. Since 2009, WVO has donated more than $80,000, in addition to in-kind donations and volunteer time. In addition, the company provides maintenance support of The Fishing School facility, supports the organization’s career mentorship program and WVO associates regularly volunteer at its monthly literacy events.
On an international level, in 1998 ARDA member and philanthropist Christel DeHaan opened the first Christel House in Mexico to give children of poverty the opportunity for transformational change. Between 1999 and 2002, Christel House opened five learning centers in Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, and the U.S. Today, it serves over 3,600 students, their families, and communities, providing the opportunity for a better life through education, health and wellness programs, life skills, character development, and parent and community outreach. Industry supporters worldwide have helped raise more than $7 million over the past 10 years through the annual RCI Christel House Open.
The impact of helping young people achieve their goal of an education is immeasurable, with long-lasting results for all. To ARDA members and others who are making a difference in the lives of students everywhere, we salute you!
For more information on timeshare vacations, visit VacationBetter.org.
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is the Washington D.C.-based professional association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries. Established in 1969, ARDA today has almost 1,000 members ranging from privately held firms to publicly traded companies and international corporations with expertise in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate. The membership also includes timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, and owners through the ARDA Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC). For more information, visit http://www.arda.org or ARDA’s consumer website athttp://www.VacationBetter.org.