World Vision, a faith-based humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families worldwide, has been making an impact over the last two decades through the partnership of companies in the construction and building supply industries. It started in 2000, when a group of business, community and faith-based volunteers came together with World Vision to find a solution to keep excess building materials from going to waste.
After assessing possible solutions, as well as the needs of people living in poverty or affected by disasters, they launched the Storehouse of World Vision, a warehouse and distribution solution that would accept excess and dead inventory and match it with families in need. To ensure the ongoing success of the Storehouse, they also formed the Crystal Vision Committee, an all-volunteer group of industry leaders who would contribute expertise, networking and recognition to this new venture.
Today, the Storehouse has expanded its scope beyond the building supply industry, distributing more than 141,000 pallets of donated goods every year, ranging from health-care equipment to educational materials to fresh food boxes.
During Design and Construction week every year, where thousands gather to attend the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and the International Builders’ Show (IBS), World Vision and the Crystal Vision Committee celebrate the passion and dedication of the tireless corporate donors who make this work possible. This recognition happens at its annual Crystal Vision Breakfast, a free event where conference attendees can network with industry leaders, learn about industry trends, and see how donated building supplies are impacting lives.
We wanted to know more about World Vision and how its volunteer group, the Crystal Vision Committee, makes an impact around the globe. We sat down with Larry Noble, national director of corporate engagement, to hear more about the group, its volunteers, and how the organization is helping children and families in need around the globe.
Ruth Mitchell: Larry, tell me about the mission of World Vision and how the organization brings it to fruition.
Larry Noble: World Vision is an international relief and development organization; its mission is to assist the underserved, most vulnerable populations worldwide. We don’t offer a handout but rather a hand up in thousands of communities in nearly 100 countries, including the United States.
We accomplish this mission by tackling the root causes of poverty and approaching development as a partnership between the community and World Vision. Our work includes WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), health, education, child protection, economic development and emergency response. Our goal is to help each community become self-sufficient, thriving and no longer in need of our expertise and resources.
RM: Tell me more about the role you play within the organization.
LN: I lead the Corporate Engagement Team, which is a small group (nine members) who are charged with building relationships with U.S.-based corporations to raise resources that support our work both in the United States and internationally. The primary lines we pursue are product donations, cash and volunteerism — all play an important role in supplying the resources to serve tens of millions of individuals and families worldwide. On an average year, this small group interfaces with more than 400 corporations nationwide.
RM: I understand the Crystal Vision Committee was formed to orchestrate the donation of building and materials products to stock the Storehouse of World Vision. What exactly does the Storehouse stock, where do the materials come from, and what are they used for?
LN: We view the Storehouse has having three “legs”: building materials, the teacher resource center and essential supplies. Historically, building supplies have been integral to our wholistic approach to serving our partners domestically. World Vision in the United States is basically the supply chain to thousands of nonprofit partners. Our ability to supply them with much-needed materials amplifies and expands our impact beyond our physical boundaries.
The Teacher Resource Center provides classroom resources to hundreds of Title I schools, reducing the cost to families, school districts and individual classroom teachers. Title 1 schools support low-income students nationwide. Our essential supplies include the basics such as cleaning supplies, diapers, clothing and shoes, and household items.
The building supply area is perhaps the most impactful segment, in that it allows us to address ongoing issues of poor housing conditions and facilitates the rebuilding of whole communities following natural disasters of all types. Our response to Hurricane Harvey, the flooding in Arkansas, flooding in Kentucky, and most recently Hurricane Ian provides materials to communities who don’t have the resources to procure them on their own. In every case, regardless of the product type, these resources are made available by hundreds of dedicated corporations who partner with us through their generous donations of product.
RM: How much material was gathered over the past year, and can you provide an example of how they are used?
LN: More than 5,000 pallets of various building materials were donated and distributed over the course of our last fiscal year. I can provide two specific examples of how these products were used.
Our work with the Navajo Nation is a prime example. The Bennet Freeze, enacted in the mid-1960s, prohibited the Navajo Nation from any infrastructure improvement, including renovations or improvements to housing. This act was finally lifted within this past decade and now we are providing materials that allow the nation’s people to finally rebuild their homes and other community facilities to improve their quality of life.
Another example is our quick response and provision of building supplies, primarily roofing material, to repair homes in Eastern Kentucky damaged by recent flooding events. Other notable uses include women’s shelters, nonprofit preschool and childcare centers, community centers, etc.
RM: The organization honors volunteers and donors during its annual Crystal Vision Awards Breakfast, held in conjunction with KBIS and IBS shows. This year’s event will take place on Feb. 1, 2023, at the Westgate Resort in Las Vegas. Tell me more about the event.
LN: The annual Crystal Vision event was instituted to recognize both companies and individuals who have contributed significantly of their time, treasure and talent. We invite all who are involved in the building industry: manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The Executive Committee has programmed the event to also include timely industry updates from experts in the field.
This is truly a celebration, an education event and a networking event where represented companies can extend their reach to other companies that share common values. At the end of the day, this is to honor the industry as a whole as a significant participant in our life-saving and life-changing work.
RM: Where can people find out more information on donating products or volunteering?
LN: The best resource is our website: www.worldvision.org/corporate. Here you can find not only opportunities for engagement but read stories of how corporate donations are a key resource for World Vision’s relief and development work. There is also contact information available on the site to request further information or to invite a call with one of our representatives. And we just launched a groundbreaking new calculator that helps you decide whether to donate, liquidate or destroy your excess product, based on the value to your organization’s bottom line.
I would like to applaud the building materials industry for putting aside their day-to-day competition and coming together with a joint focus and shared values to provide much-needed product to those who otherwise could not obtain it. I also want to thank the dedicated individuals who comprise our Crystal Vision Executive Committee, without whom this event would not be possible. Their gift of time and their tireless efforts to support World Vision and the Crystal Vision event are critical to our future success.