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Convention group plans home makeovers for Phoenix families

Nearly a quarter million convention delegates pass through the Phoenix Convention Center each year, and all of them spend money at local businesses — to the collective tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

But some conventions that visit Phoenix leave behind more than just dollar bills and credit-card receipts. Some of them choose to make a lasting impression.

The Association of School Business Officials International is one such group.

This professional association of school managers, known by the acronym ASBO, will make life a little better for two Phoenix families next week by transforming their bare-bone houses into warm, welcoming homes. The makeover project is part of the group’s Positive Impact Program, which is designed to give something back to the city that hosts ASBO’s annual meeting.

The group’s 2013 Annual Meeting and Expo started Friday at the Phoenix Convention Center with volunteers gathering Monday, October 15 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. to carry out the pair of makeovers.

Partnering with ASBO to make this charitable effort happen is the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – which helped the group select worthy families. Following the script of a popular TV show documenting home makeovers, volunteers will paint, decorate and move in furniture while the families take leave of their houses for several hours. Then, at day’s end, the families will be welcomed back for big reveals.

“The folks at St. Vincent de Paul introduced us to a couple of wonderful families, and we were able to work out their needs and compile a wish list for them,” said Maureen Thompson, director of meetings for ASBO.

Items on that wish list were placed on a registry at Wal-Mart, so ASBO members could make purchases and donate to the cause. Thompson said she expects about 75 volunteers at Monday’s makeover sites including 30 local ASBO members in Phoenix.

“It’s good for the community to know that an association that comes and goes at the convention center wants to leave a little something behind for Phoenix,” Thompson said. “Tourism is valuable for any city, and I know conventions put heads in beds. But, for us, a service initiative like the Positive Impact Program makes our annual meeting a little more special; and maybe by the time we leave town, the community will remember us not by just an acronym but as people and faces.”

According to the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau—which booked ASBO’s annual meeting and expo into the convention center and provided the group with a list of local charities that might be able to assist with the Positive Impact Program—about 1,600 delegates will attend the four-day event at the convention center, and those delegates will contribute an estimated $2.3 million in direct spending to Phoenix’s economy.

“As far as convention groups go, ASBO is fairly modest in size,” said Scott Dunn, a spokesperson for the Greater Phoenix CVB. “But their contribution to these two families is definitely outsized. This program is a perfect example of how bringing meeting and conventions to downtown Phoenix can positively impact the community as a whole.”

The 5,000-plus members of ASBO manage the business side of school operations. Their expertise spans the areas of budgeting, purchasing, maintenance, human resources, technology, transportation, security, food service and health care. Members are employed in K-12 school districts, community colleges, universities and state departments of education.

For more information about the group’s Positive Impact Program project in Phoenix and the families it benefits, visit http://www.asbointl.org/Positive_Impact_Program.htm.