VISIT Milwaukee, Donya’s Florals and TCF Center Lend a Helping Hand to Communities

August 3, 2020

Whether supplying protective face masks to local residents, helping young students with their career plans or working to combat food insecurity, these event destinations, venues and vendors haven’t allowed the pandemic to slow their CSR efforts.

VISIT Milwaukee Helps Supply Milwaukeeans With Free Face Masks 

To help Milwaukee residents stay safe and healthy while complying with the new City of Milwaukee MKE Cares mask ordinance that went into effect on July 16, VISIT Milwaukee and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce have teamed up to provide Milwaukeeans with free protective face masks. As part of the MaskUpMKE initiative, VISIT Milwaukee staff delivered 50,000 Fam Brands masks to 42 CITGO stations on July 27. The masks will be available at the stations on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last.

“The data tells us that wearing masks is vital to helping our tourism economy return while keeping our hospitality workers and all Milwaukee residents safe and healthy,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. “We are excited to partner with the MMAC and CITGO on this initiative and do our part to get masks into the hands of every Milwaukeean.”

The public-private partnership is also supported by the City of Milwaukee Health Department, whose officials lauded the effort.

By making masks free and easily available throughout the community, the hope is that more people will wear them, said Steve Baas, senior vice president of governmental affairs at MMAC. 

“Our focus is on encouraging businesses and individuals to exercise responsible freedom and best practices for controlling the spread of this virus,” Baas said. “The sooner we can reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, the sooner we can fully reopen our economy.”

Resident Florist at Greater Columbus Convention Center Welcomes Student Interns

On July 17, the Greater Columbus Convention Center’s resident florist, Donya’s Florals, celebrated its sixth anniversary by welcoming three high school student interns from Leading The Way Learning Academy. Founded in 2014, LTWLA provides youth development and workforce services in Franklin County for students ranging from kindergarten through high school seniors. 


Through LTWLA’s Youth Internship Program, the three students are learning botany, retail sales, event planning, floral design and marketing, client relationship marketing and management, basic flower/plant care and handling, event and hospitality services, marketing communication and sales, cost of goods sold and buying, pricing, promoting, packaging and distributing goods for retail. 

“These are three amazing interns learning from beginning to end to process an order,” said Donya Lewis, owner of Donya’s Florals, which opened at the GCCC in February 2018. “They work collaboratively, know how to crank out a contract, call the courier and help them navigate getting here.”

Lewis said she learned about the opportunity to host interns during an LTWLA presentation at the Central Ohio African American Chamber of Commerce – of which the GCCC is also a member – and volunteered to participate. 

So far, Lewis’s intern team has worked on a variety of orders, including one for the YWCA Women of Achievement festivities, and three upcoming weddings in which each intern has been dedicated to one bride.  

Detroit’s TCF Center Helps Food Rescue US Combat Hunger

Since June, the TCF Center has been serving as a food distribution hub for the Detroit Chapter of Food Rescue US, a nonprofit organization that rescues excess fresh food from restaurants, grocers, bakers, caterers, farmer’s markets, company cafeterias and other local food establishments, then donates it to hunger relief organizations.

So far, the agency has distributed 270,000 pounds of meat, fresh produce and packaged foods from the venue’s loading docks to local food redistribution agencies in Southeast Michigan.

Each Friday, the Detroit chapter of the Food Rescue US volunteer network works alongside TCF Center employees on the venue’s loading docks to collect tons of food from local restaurants, grocers and other food providers. The donations are then organized for local nonprofit agencies and churches to pick up and redistribute to people in need in the Southeast Michigan area.

“We hope to continue the Food Rescue US operation on the docks at least through August,” said Claude Molinari, general manager of TCF Center. “It is a big part of our Corporate Responsibility Program to provide opportunities to local residents in need, and we are pleased to do it.”

According to Food Rescue US officials, an estimated one in seven Americans are struggling with food insecurity during the pandemic. Through the use of its proprietary app, the organization provides the platform for volunteer food rescuers to directly transfer excess food from businesses to local social service agencies that feed hungry citizens. 

The organization has been working closely with The Farmlink Project, a grassroots movement striving to prevent food waste during the COVID-19 pandemic by linking farms experiencing extreme surplus due to reduced commercial orders to local agencies that pick the food up from locations such as the TCF Center. 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.