IOUG's James Lui Honored by ARAMARK for Volunteer Service

James Lui, IOUG's Director of Social Media, was recently selected as ARAMARK's Outstanding Volunteer and the Jefferson Gold Medal Honoree Gold Medal for his work in giving back to the community. Most recently, in the wake of the Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami, he worked with two local organizations to raise funds for the relief efforts -creating a social media campaign for a local hair salon to bring in over $1,000 in donations in just three hours. He also worked with his improvisational theatre group to donate 100% of its April 1st show proceeds to the Japan America Society Relief Fund.

James also involved gets involved with company supported programs. He participates in ARAMARK Building Community (ABC) volunteering in Center Enhancement Days with the Salvation Army of Southern California in 2009 and 2010.

Lui was selected for the awards from among 37 nominees across all lines of business for ARAMARK Outstanding Volunteer Awards. The awards were created to showcase and recognize the extraordinary things ARAMARK employees like Lui do to enrichlives in our communities every day. In partnership with the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, which were founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and US Senator Robert Taft to establish a Nobel Prize for Public Service, the awards celebrate employee volunteer efforts and encourage volunteering in the workplace.

James will officially receive his Gold Medal, along with other volunteer leaders from around the country at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremonies in Washington, DC on June 20.

Lui exemplifies the spirit of the awards, giving his personal time to a cause and a community that he is connected to and is committed to making better. He serves as a board member and volunteers several hours each month with the Asian Professionals Exchange, a non-profit, community-based organization, with multi-faceted goals and purposes that are charitable, cultural and educational in nature. His true passion, however, is working in support of expansion of creative arts education for Asian-Americans, which is particularly important because many schools have cut back on arts programs due to budget constraints. It's a responsibility that he embraces, and he can recall in detail the moment he knew how important it was to make a difference in others' lives.

Lui first became involved with his community when his local improvisational theatre group was asked to help entertain a group of children while they were waiting for their pictures to be taken with Santa. The improv group asked the children what they wanted from Santa - an Xbox, or a DVD? They were met with blank stares and James realized they were so poor that gifts came in the form of second-hand clothes from relatives, or a piece of fruit or candy.

"Then one little girl smiled and said, 'I know, I would like to tell stories like you do!' Every child in the room suddenly brightened with wide smiles and laughs and chimed in, 'Yeah, like them!'" Lui recalled.

"These children probably never thought they could be like someone on television, or see a live theatrical performance, performed by people who looked just like them. We saw through their little eyes why it's very important to keep reaching out and doing something small to make a difference," he said.