SEARCH helps event professionals faced with disasters

What happens when you as an event professional are faced with a life-threatening illness and you can't run your business anymore? That's where the SEARCH-foundation reaches out a helping hand.

Kevin Van der Straeten
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What happens when you as an event professional are faced with a life-threatening illness and you can't run your business anymore? That's where the SEARCH-foundation reaches out a helping hand.


Hi Rick, welcome in our show. 


Thanks for having me.


Your organisation helps event professionals faced with a life-threatening illness. Can you tell me something about your organisation?


Absolutely, the SEARCH-foundation was founded in 1997 by like-minded event professionals, who wanted to help other folks in the industry who were faced with a crisis. And that's really a broad spectrum. That could be an illness, a catastrophic occurrence, something due to weather. There's a number of things that we help folks out with.


Are you helping them out financially, or how do I have to see that? 


Yes, we do help them out financially, we host a number of fund-raisers every year, two very big ones, one we just wrapped up last week in Seattle Washington, during the ISES live event, and the other we do at the Special Event Tradeshow. And this january it will take place in Anaheim California, just outside of Los Angeles. In addition we have a number of speaking engagements and a number of efforts where we go out and raise funds for these individuals. For example, tomorrow I'm flying to an ISES-chapter in the Virginia Beach area. And we'll talk about our mission, we'll talk about what we do, and see if we can raise some funds. We have a wonderful amount of donors and a 100% of those proceeds go back to the folks who need it the most.


And you guys working for the organization. Do you also have your day-to-day job, or...?


We only have one employee for SEARCH and that's our executive-director Corinne. She's amazing. But we all have 9 to 5-jobs. For example, I am the director of business development for Colortone and we are the nation's premier audiovisual corporate event production firm.


When you're an event professional and you're in trouble, what conditions do I have to meet to get help from your organization?


Well, every situation is unique. What generally happens through our process is that a request is made through our website. We have a group of anonymous volunteers, that go ahead and review every situation, and they award it. This year, knock on wood, it's been good because we haven't had too many requests, which means that people are doing well. Not too many people are in peril. But we're eager to help anyone and everyone, and it's very rare that anything, if ever, is turned down for assistance.


Is it only American citizens that can apply, or is your organization worldwide? 


It is certainly worldwide: we've helped folks in Australia, Europe, all over the place, so as long as your a like-minded professional within our industry, we're here to help you out. 


And if people want to support them, how can they do that? 


They can visit our website, which is They can learn more about it and there's a link right there where you can donate your money.


And where did the idea to start with this come from? 


Again, this started in 1997. We had some event professionals. And this was the height of the AIDS-crisis in the late '90's. And so many of our colleagues were suffering, new people that were suffering. And we said: you know, there's the United Way, there's the Salvation Army, there's the Red Cross, there's all these things, but what if we put something together where we can actually see where the proceeds are going, and help those that we're standing shoulder to shoulder with. Rick, I really want to thank you for your time, and your wonderful work for our industry. 


Thank you very much. 


It's an honor and a pleasure to be part of this organization. Thank you very much. 


And you at home, thank you for watching our show. I hope to see you next week.