Corporate sponsorship, community involvement and educational excellence are all important charitable concerns at Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, according to Will Conniff, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota, which are divisions of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., the country’s leading wine and spirits distributor with a tradition of service since 1968.I. Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois and the H.E.A.R.T. Organization
In 2013, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois is a proud supporter of the H.E.A.R.T. Organization, whose mission is to assist local youths from age 12-to-18 in Will County and in need of court ordered community service compliance. Under the leadership of Yvonne Mug, Director, Human Resources, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, the company continues its outreach efforts with the H.E.A.R.T. Organization.II. Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois and 2012-2013 Chicago Gourmet Festival
In September 2012, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois continued its sponsorship of the sixth annual Chicago Gourmet, A Celebration of Food and Wine, as the event’s exclusive wine and spirits sponsor.
Held on September 28-30, 2012, in collaboration with the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) and chaired by The Honorable Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago, Chicago Gourmet featured two days of exciting culinary and sensory diversity, all held within the breathtaking Millennium Park, according to Sheila O’Grady, President of the Illinois Restaurant Association. Thanks to continuing support from Southern, Ms. O’Grady noted that Chicago Gourmet featured the highest quality wines and spirits along with some of the city, state and region’s best chefs, cookbook authors and sommeliers—as well as many local and national culinary experts. Chicago Gourmet organizers and sponsors welcomed thousands of in- and out-of-state discerning consumers to attend the two-day event on Lake Michigan.
Mary F. Barranco, National Director of Education, Southern Wine & Spirits of America said, “We are excited to participate, once again in 2012, at Chicago Gourmet. Our Master Sommeliers: Serafin Alvarado, Master Sommelier, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, Frederick Dame, Master Sommelier, Southern Wine & Spirits of California, Jay Fletcher, Master Sommelier, Southern Wine & Spirits of Colorado, Reggie Narito, Master Sommelier, Southern Wine & Spirits of California, and our Master Mixologist, Bridget Albert, are all involved in exciting educational events for attendees. Southern also hosted a number of Chicago Gourmet seminars about appreciating fine wines and spirits, great wine and food matching ideas, and trendy new cocktails. We are also proud that proceeds from Chicago Gourmet will help support many hospitality industry charities across Illinois.”
Mr. Conniff said, “Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois is again much honored to partner with the Illinois Restaurant Association and Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the 2012 edition of Chicago Gourmet. In 2013, we look forward to continuing this great collaboration with the Illinois Restaurant Association and the many worthy charitable organizations supported by funds raised during this great Windy City beverage and culinary event. Our support reflects of our commitment to the importance of the restaurant and hospitality business in Chicago and throughout the great State of Illinois.”
According to Yvonne Mug, Director, Human Resources, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, “As Southern has done in the past, at the 2012 event, we proudly took part in a number of well-attended charitable auctions, the proceeds from which will support the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (IRAEF). Their mission is to build Illinois' hospitality workforce through career exploration and development programs, scholarships and image enhancement.”
Mr. Conniff concluded, "On behalf of Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois, I would like to thank Chicago Gourmet, the Illinois Restaurant Association and the Mayor’s Office in Chicago.”
For more information about the 2013 Chicago Gourmet, please log onto: www.chicagogourmet.org.III. Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois and New Leaders for New Schools in 2012
In 2012, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois continued its support of New Leaders for New Schools, and the Company also participated in the May 2012 Gala fundraiser, according to Yvonne Mug, Director, Human Resources, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois. Continuing its support that started in early 2009, the Company in 2012 selected a local, non-profit educational group, New Leaders for New Schools, where Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois has committed to a three-year (minimum) sponsorship of its annual fall fundraising gala.
Below is an excerpt from Mr. Conniff’s memo to the Company’s Division Team Members announcing this partnership. Mr. Conniff said, “We consider it a privilege to do business in the State of Illinois and in continuing our efforts to give back elected to support and fundraise on behalf of New Leaders for New Schools.” The Company participated in the June 21, 2012 New Leaders for New Schools’ Cocktail Fundraiser to support future teachers in America.
New Leaders for New Schools was formed to attract and prepare outstanding leaders to become urban school principals. Their goal is to provide every student the opportunity to attain academic excellence by training principals to coach and inspire teachers, parents, families and the communities they serve.” For more information, log onto: www.nlns.orgIV. Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois and Denim Days in Support of New Leaders for New Schools
In 2012, as in previous years, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois offered employees the chance to make a year-end contribution to New Leaders for New School educational charity with the benefit of being free to wear appropriate denim jeans, “any day or every day” to work for one month with each donation of $15. Completely voluntary and open to all Southern team members, the “Denim Days” was a big hit and help raise additional funds for this worthy cause, according to Yvonne Mug, Director, Human Resources, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois.V. Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois and the Illinois Restaurant Association’s SERVSAFE Alcohol Awareness Program
In 2013, and continuing its support since spring 2009, when Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois entered into a partnership with the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) and SERVSAFE Alcohol, a division of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the Company maintained its statewide support efforts to raise server alcohol awareness training in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and hotels that comprise the hospitality trade.
Open to employees and managers at on- and off-premise establishments, the SERVSAFE Alcohol 4-hour training program, called Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Educational Training (B.A.S.S.E.T.) is the State of Illinois’ certified seller/server train program, according to Mary F. Barranco, National Director of Education, Southern Wine & Spirits of America. The SERVSAFE certificate program, according to the NRA, was developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) to raise the bar in responsible alcohol service training and certification. The SERVSAFE program offers real-world training solutions, as well as practical knowledge and best-in-class resources that seek to prepare and protect hospitality operations across the state, according to the NRAEF. To date, SERVSAFE has trained 10 Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois employees as certified instructors. Ms. Barranco said, “To help promote the SERVSAFE Alcohol training program, our Education team at Southern is distributing promotional information to our sales representatives to distribute as widely as possible. We continue to offer on-site training and quarterly public courses which will be posted on our website, as well.” For more information on SERVSAFE, please log onto: Illinois Home
According to Mr. Conniff, these above-noted charitable and community service activities are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the Company’s activities across Illinois. In addition, here are a number of other groups which received Southern’s support in 2012 and 2013:Alexander Graham Bell Montessori School for the hearing impaired
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Chicago
Chicago International Film Festival
Christo Rey St. Martin College Prep
Dupage County Children’s Museum
Esperanza Community Center
Girls On the Run Charity Event
Joliet Junior College Culinary Arts
Make A Wish Foundation
Meals on Wheels
Mercy Home for Boys and Girls
Northwestern Medical School
Northwestern University Center for Public Safety
Special Olympics Chicago
Washburn Culinary Institute
Last, but not least, in 2012 and again in 2013, the Company participates in a program during the holiday season, during which Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois team members donate goods or money to local charities, the programs vary from year to year.