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GAWDA Convention: Members Take To Social Media

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

It’s hard to believe we’re nearly through another GAWDA Convention, but here we are at the end of Day 3 of GAWDA’s 68th Annual Convention in Colorado Springs, CO. The first three days have been full of great networking opportunities and yet another incredible display of generosity from GAWDA members.

Members have been sharing photos from the Convention on Twitter and Facebook, like this one tweeted that was tweeted out yesterday:

Thanks to Doug O’Dell at TrackAbout for this photo…it’s great to see a full crowd, a strong sign that business has returned (and is hopefully here to stay).

One of the biggest highlights thus far has been the presentation of the 2012 GAWDA Gives Back donations to local charities PEAK Parent Center and Partners In Housing. GAWDA members donated $174,444, giving over $87,000 to each of the two worthy causes. It was obvious that this donation meant a lot to both organizations, who let GAWDA members in on the work they do with a special video and thanks from clients of each group.

This year, for the first time, GAWDA members redoubled their generosity to help the newly established GAWDA Foundation get off the ground. With funding now well over $100,000, the Foundation aims to continue to develop the industry’s workforce. One of the ways it will work toward this is through scholarships for distributors, suppliers or end-users, the first of which will be presented at next year’s SMC.

I received a message on LinkedIn this afternoon from a first-time Convention attendee, who came away impressed with what he experienced. He expressed great pride for what members accomplished by coming together in donating to GAWDA Gives Back, and was very pleased with the program put together by GAWDA.

There’s more to come tomorrow, as we hear from the final two speakers. If their articles in the Fall issue of Welding & Gases Today are any indication, Wednesday’s business session should promise great takeaways for members.

What are your top takeaways from the Convention so far? Share by leaving a comment.

Giving The Gift Of Training

Friday, August 24th, 2012

GAWDA's 2012 Gives Back recipients teach clients the skills needed for success.

While there are larger organizations than GAWDA, there are few who leave as great of an impact on the cities in which they gather. Through GAWDA Gives Back, association members have donated almost $1.2 million dollars to deserving organizations, saving lives and changing them forever.

In 2012, GAWDA has selected two charities in Colorado Springs to be on the receiving end of this incredible tradition of giving. Welding & Gases Today spoke with the directors of Partners In Housing and PEAK Parent Center to find out what these organizations are all about in “A Look Inside 2012’s GAWDA Gives Back Recipients.” When you have a few minutes, I strongly encourage you to read about the charities. They are doing some amazing work in the state of Colorado.

In referring to Partners In Housing, the article brings up the adage, “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime,” and rightly so. In fact, the same saying could be used to talk about PEAK Parent Center. What both organizations have in common is their mission to teach. Whether it’s helping homeless families or parents of children with disabilities, neither PIH nor PEAK offer their clients a handout. Instead, what they offer is education, training, resources…things to help them eat for a lifetime.

For me, this mission rings true with GAWDA as well. Whether it’s the Annual Convention, SMC, regional meeting, GAWDA University, Welding & Gases Today magazine or the GAWDA consultants, there is an incredible amount of education that the association offers members. In the end, training and education are worth more than any handout.

While the convention is just around the corner, it’s not too late to make a difference. If you’re thinking of supporting GAWDA Gives Back, get to know the organizations and people GAWDA’s leadership has selected for this year’s donations and go inside GAWDA Gives Back.

Where GAWDA’s Donations Really Went

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

GAWDA Gives BackGAWDA’s 68th Annual Convention in Colorado Springs is just around the corner. With it comes the culmination of another year of GAWDA Gives Back. But before we count up how much GAWDA members will add to the nearly $1.2 million already donated, it’s great to look back and see the amazing things accomplished with members’ donations.

Every year, Welding & Gases Today looks at how the chosen organizations plan to use the donations they receive. But often, the amount the charities receive is much larger than they ever expect. Some GAWDA members have been asking, how did they use the money? Did the recipients do what they said they were going to do with the money?

Well, here’s your answer. Recently, we called around to all of the great organizations GAWDA members have donated to over the past several years. The organizations were grateful and often overwhelmed by members’ generosity. They shared stories of lives saved and lives changed, and sent along letters and photos from people who have been impacted by GAWDA Gives Back.

The GAWDA Gives Back recipients have some amazing stories to share. Take a look at “How GAWDA Gave Back” to find out what happened with the money you’ve given over the years.

As we get ready for GAWDA’s Annual Convention, here are some GAWDA Gives Back fun facts:

  • The 2011 total was the largest GAWDA Gives Back donation to date. The previous highest donation was $193,162 in 2010.
  • In 2011 alone, GAWDA members surpassed the total giving from the program’s first five years combined. ($195,555)
  • 2011 was not the first year that GAWDA gave back to two organizations. In the program’s inaugural year, Maui Adult Day Care Centers and Hawaii Community Services Council shared members donations. And when the Convention was held in San Francisco in 2001, GAWDA members donated to the Lincoln Child Center and Beating the Odds.
  • Maui, HI, is the city that has received the greatest total donations from GAWDA members. The city hosted GAWDA in 2000, 2005 and 2010.
  • Even with only one year under its belt, New York City is now the runner-up after Maui.
  • After donating $971,773 in the first 11 years, GAWDA soared past the $1 million milestone in 2011.
  • The 12-year combined GAWDA Gives Back donations equal an incredible $1,174,483.

The Incredible Generosity Of GAWDA Members

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

We’re in the midst of GAWDA’s 67th Annual Convention right now. 2011 was another great year for what has become one of the finest GAWDA Convention traditions—GAWDA Gives Back. Started in 2000, GAWDA Gives Back is now in its 12th year. Every year, GAWDA selects an organization based in the Convention host city. On Monday, the association presented checks to two organizations: the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation and the Pencil Fellows Program. Each organization received $101,375, for a total donation of $202,750. Wow.

In light of this amazing donation, I put together some fun facts about GAWDA Gives Back:

  • The 2011 total was the largest GAWDA Gives Back donation to date. The previous highest donation was $193,162 in 2010.
  • In 2011 alone, GAWDA members surpassed the total giving from the program’s first five years combined. ($195,555)
  • 2011 was not the first year that GAWDA gave back to two organizations. When the Convention was held in San Francisco in 2001, GAWDA members donated to the Lincoln Child Center and Beating the Odds.
  • Maui, HI, is the city that has received the greatest total donations from GAWDA members. The city hosted GAWDA in 2000, 2005 and 2010.
  • Even with only one year under its belt, New York City is now the runner-up after Maui.
  • After donating $975,053 in the first 11 years, GAWDA soared past the $1 million milestone in 2011.
  • The 12-year combined GAWDA Gives Back donations equal an incredible $1,177,803.

Way to go, GAWDA members. Your generosity continues to amaze me.

Regional Meeting Season Opens

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

GAWDA Regional MeetingIt’s hard to believe February is over already. Spring is only three weeks away, but another season is just beginning (and I’m not talking about Spring Training). March 1 marks the beginning to a great slate of GAWDA regional meetings that will take place all over the country throughout the year. For the inaugural meeting of 2011, GAWDA members gathered in Bonita Springs, Florida, to listen to speakers, network, and play a little golf.

There are around a dozen regional meetings every year, and each one is unique in its own right. Each meeting features different speakers and unique attractions. Events have been hosted at venues ranging from baseball stadiums to casinos.

I spoke with Ken Flora, VP sales & marketing at Welder Services (Fort Wayne, IN) who has organized the Fort Wayne regional meeting for the past 15 years. Regardless of who’s speaking, Flora says the regional meetings are a good way to make contacts in the industry. “It creates camaraderie between GAWDA members and vendors.” According to Flora, attendees enjoy the meeting so much that they come back year after year, and it has even created something of a friendly rivalry on the golf course. “The Berger brothers (of Berger Farm & Welding Supply) over in Plymouth seem to dominate our golf scramble, so we’re always out to try to beat them.”

Another one of the great things that goes on at regional meetings is fundraising for GAWDA Gives Back. Silent auctions raise thousands of dollars every year for charity. At last year’s Gettysburg, PA, regional meeting in September, members raised an impressive $64,116 for the campaign.

GAWDA members, what is the most memorable regional meeting you have been to? What traditions make your region unique?

See the slate of regional meetings and to find the location nearest to you.

Follow me on Twitter: @GasWeldEdge

The GAWDA That Keeps On Giving

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
Haun Sales Rep John Wilmarth (left) and William Stadelman
Haun Welding Supply Sales Rep John Wilmarth (left) and William Stadelman

With the holiday season in full swing (and the economic scales starting to tip in a positive direction), the spirit of giving is stronger than ever. I want to highlight the efforts of a couple of GAWDA distributor members who have been involved in some great projects that represent the industry in a great way.

Last week, I spoke with Haun Welding Supply, located in Syracuse, NY, who played a major role in making a wish come true for a welding student who is fighting brain cancer. When William Stadelman became too sick to attend classes, he asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help turn his garage into a welding shop so that he could keep up with his favorite subject. Haun Welding Supply outside sales rep John Wilmarth found out about it through Stadelman’s welding instructor, John Shear, and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a difference.

In the 8 months since he found out about the wish, Wilmarth worked alongside Miller Electric and Haun’s supplier partners to bring together more than $15,000 in equipment, gases and accessories for Stadelman’s shop. It really shows what can be accomplished when distributors and suppliers come together for a common cause. What a great project, and what a difference it will make for the welding student.

Next, I found out via twitter about nexAir’s donation to help the local Meals On Wheels campaign in Memphis, TN. The company’s employees, all the way up to the executive level with CFO Milton Lovell, showed their support by donating time and money to help deliver Christmas meals to those in need. In all, the company contributed $5,000, which will fund 750 meals. Hats off to you!

With the most recent GAWDA Gives Back campaign exceeding $200,000 for the benefit of Maui’s Child and Family Service charity, it’s no secret that GAWDA members are a selfless, caring group. I am never surprised, but always thrilled to see the projects members are involved in.

How does your company make a difference? Did you take part in any special holiday charity projects in 2010? I’d love to hear about it.