Spotlight On: Retail Orphan Initiative

There are more than 400 million vulnerable and orphaned children worldwide, and the Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) wants to help as many as it can. The charitable foundation brings together retailers, vendors and industry consultants to raise awareness and provide real solutions for these needy children, both here at home and around the world.

In support of RetailROI,  SPECS invited the group’s founder and donor trustee, Greg Buzek, president of IHL Group, to make a presentation at the show.

“The opportunity for the store design/planning, construction and facilities colleagues from SPECS is absolutely crucial to the things that we are doing,” Buzek said.

There are many ways retailers and suppliers can get involved with RetailROI, both personally and/or on behalf of their business, including participating in a RetailROI “vision trip.” (For more, go to  

RetailROI has helped to build four schools in underdeveloped countries. While the tech side of retail has been very involved in these efforts, Buzek is now hoping to get the store development side equally involved.

“The talents of the design, planning and construction side of things would bring so much to these opportunities,” he said. “Even in projects where the walls are already up, there are issues with how to make the best use of the space, sound absorption and the like. We have a school in Liberia that has 215 children in nine classrooms that are made entirely out of cement. The sound simply bounces off the walls. It’s important to understand that what a person does every day as part of their daily job can be a critical skill that can brighten the life of a child in need.”

In support of the charity, SPECS donated two paintings that were done on site by famous speed painter Dan Dunn to RetailROI, which raffled them off during the show. The winners of the raffle, which raised a total of $5,880, were Todd Chapell, building estimator, Wegmans Foods Markets, Rochester, N.Y.; and Craig Chinn, associate principal, KTGY Group, Irvine, Calif.

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