Inspiration for the Journey
Updated: Sep 2
By Wendy Moore, Director of Communications & Foundation Relations, REI HQ
“It was such a gift to be invited as a summer intern, to hear peoples’ testimonies and gain a better understanding of REI’s work in all the countries.”
“I really want to be with this organization, it has so much history and weight.”
These comments only represent many made after Refresh 2022.
This past August 7-12th, REI held its global staff conference at The Hideaway, a conference and retreat center located in the heart of Colorado’s Front Range not far from Colorado Springs.
This conference happens every two years as an opportunity to bring all staff together for a time of refreshment and fellowship. This year, nearly 60 conference participants gathered, including overseas and HQ staff, keynote speakers (Tom and Dana Yeakley), several potential staff and those transitioning to new places as well as board members, guest presenters and the director of REI’s Vietnam office in Hanoi, Mrs. Lien and her husband.
Summed up, Refresh 2022 was a week of inspiring and challenging content, laughter and storytelling over meals and games, while reconnecting with friends and making new ones too.
Wrapping up the conference week and honoring REI’s 30th anniversary on Friday night, August 12th, REI staff changed into semi-formal attire to celebrate a Gala Night at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, in Colorado Springs, with 200 guests, some coming from all over the country. Not a fundraising-focused event, this gala primarily aimed to honor all REI stakeholders by inviting those from the past, present, and potentially the future.
Live piano playing in the background, the gala kicked off with a reception including a silent auction with items from around the world, donated by REI countries, as well as items from local Colorado Springs businesses and artists. Remarkably, the silent auction raised $5,000, the proceeds going toward scholarships for local Djiboutian students attending the International School of Djibouti run by REI.
The evening’s dinner program showcased highlight reels from the countries/regions where REI works and a six-person panel that brought real-life stories of impact from the field.
REI’s president, Douglas Erdmann, spoke about “REI Distinctives,” giving a clear picture of who REI is and how they work. “Did you know that REI works in some of the most under-developed countries in the world? These countries are also some of the most restricted to access. These significant challenges create just the right context for the kind of holistic development REI brings,” he said.
In the end, REI presented the Legacy Award to Dr. Ace Barnes, who worked for 15 years to help found and establish REI’s work, especially in Vietnam. Dr. Barnes passed away in 2019, but his daughter, Liz Corn and her husband, David Corn, attended the gala and received the award on his behalf.
With smiles and warm wishes, REI gladly sent everyone home with some inspiration for their journeys.