Each year, Variety International hosts the Variety International Awards. These awards recognize excellence in regional Variety organizations, or “tents,” from around the world. This year, Variety International selected to award top honors to local philanthropist Judy Jones and Ameren Corporation. Variety St. Louis also won an award in recognition of our communications efforts.
Jones, awarded the 2018 Presidential Citation Award, has been a friend to Variety St. Louis for many years and was honored as Woman of the Year in 2016. Jones is a strong believer in helping children with special needs reach their own potential, as well as spreading a message of inclusion throughout the area.
This is why she and her late husband, Dennis Jones, stepped in as the lead contributors to the Dennis and Judith Jones Variety Wonderland Playground – an inclusive playground in St. Louis’ Forest Park. The half-acre oasis was designed for children of all ages and abilities to play together.
Just as individuals are dedicated to helping Variety Kids, there are organizations that step up to support Variety in many ways. Ameren Corporation is one of these organizations, and has been awarded the 2018 Corporate Award.
Ameren Corporation is dedicated to powering the quality of life for individuals and families throughout the communities it serves. For more than a decade, the “Ameren Power Kids” program has brought the latest technology in medical equipment to Variety Kids. Since 2003, more than 70 Variety Kids have received power wheelchairs thanks to Ameren gifts.
"I am inspired by the powerful impact Variety makes in the lives of children," said Warner Baxter, chairman, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ameren Corporation. ”Ameren has proudly supported the organization for more than thirty years, giving children in need the chance to experience a more active and independent life. We share the same commitment of making our communities better and a brighter places to live."
These gifts are crucial to the livelihood of the children they serve. Power chairs give kids increased mobility and independence, improving overall quality of life.
Many of Ameren’s top leaders have dedicated their time and resources to ensuring Variety Kids reach their full potential. Baxter currently serves as president of the Variety Board of Directors and was named Variety’s Man of the Year in 2017. Tom Voss, past Ameren president and CEO, was awarded the same distinction in 2014.
Finally, the Mort Sunshine Award for Electronic Excellence is awarded yearly to one of the 41 Variety chapters in 11 countries in recognition of outstanding communications. This year, Variety St. Louis was selected to receive the award for a special digital campaign.
Variety St. Louis sends a print annual appeal during the traditional “Season of Giving” between Thanksgiving and the New Year each year. In 2017, for the first time, the chapter backed the printed piece with a strong digital effort.
The printed piece featured the story of 18-year-old Gracie Gibson and her journey with Variety since before her first birthday. The mailing was distributed the week after Thanksgiving to coincide with a new digital appeal campaign on "Giving Tuesday," leveraging the movement online. Not only did this campaign raise funds for Variety Kids like Gracie, it also increased awareness for Variety.
Thank you, Variety International, for recognizing the dedication of both Judy Jones and Ameren Corporation and their long-time support of Variety Kids. And thank you for your recognition of our tent’s communications efforts in bringing awareness to Variety and our mission.