IKEA Announces Finalists for Second Year of Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest

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Contest Winner – Determined by Public Vote – Will Receive $100,000 to Advance Project that Improves the Lives of Others

IKEA, The Life Improvement Store, announced today the five (5) finalists of the Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest who are in the running to win a year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000) to improve the lives of others. Understanding that people have a desire to be a positive force within their community, IKEA offered the second year of this unique contest to give one deserving winner the opportunity to pursue their passion, and share their experience with the world.

Public voting will take place from November 28, 2011 – December 23, 2011 at http://www.thelifeimprovementproject.com to determine the winner, who will be announced on or around January 17, 2012. IKEA will donate $1.00 for every received vote (up to $50,000) to U.S.-based education programs.

“IKEA believes in creating a better everyday life for the many people and we continue to be inspired by people’s heartfelt desire to improve the lives of others,” says Leontyne Green, Marketing Manager, IKEA North America. “This year’s more than 1,000 Life Improvement Sabbatical contest submissions included thoughtful and passionate ideas and we can’t wait to see who the public chooses as the winner.”

The five (5) finalists (in alphabetical order), selected by an IKEA judging panel, are as follows:

Cheryle Clarke (Longmont, CO)
PROJECT: New Safehouse Completion

  •     Alternatives to Family Violence is a domestic violence service center provider for Adams County, CO (located near Denver). The program provides food, clothing, counseling, medical treatment and ancillary needs to those who enter. Each year, more than 400 women and children find emergency refuge at the program’s Safehouse. With the Grand Prize, Cheryle would contribute to acquiring and furnishing a new Safehouse facility, expanding the number of beds and growing their program to help more victims.

Lisa Dunster (Missoula, MT)
PROJECT: Rebuilding Military Family… Strengthening A Nation

  •     The Compass Retreat Center is an organization that provides a supportive setting for military service members and their families following return from deployment, with an emphasis on renewing relationships and strengthening bonds. By providing intentional family time in a safe, neutral environment, the whole family works on healing through family activities, workshops, small group encounters, team-building and trust-building exercises. With the Grand Prize Winnings, Lisa would increase the program’s outreach to more family from across the country.

Nan Jenkins (Stockbridge, GA)
PROJECT: Changing the Life of a Child

  •     Located on the outskirts of Atlanta, GA, A Friend’s House has been providing and operating a facility for the community’s children in need for over 13 years. A Friend’s House collaborates with local and state agencies to help the children with medical issues, education, and potential reunification with their families. With the winnings, Nan would help update the facility to further help address the needs of these children.

Melissa Matthews (Wake Forest, NC)
PROJECT: Special Technology for Special Kids!

  •     The mother of a child with Down syndrome, Melissa Matthews would like to expand the work being done at the Frankie Lemon School in Raleigh, NC, a school for children with intellectual disabilities. This institution uses technology and cutting-edge therapy to help these children with special needs. If selected as winner, Melissa would infuse more technology deeper into these classrooms and create a website to facilitate the sharing of these technologies and techniques with other teachers across the country.

Scott Millard (Landing, NJ)
PROJECT: Connor’s House

  •     Deeply affected by the loss of his son, Scott co-founded Connor’s House, a resource center to assist families with chronically ill children, providing short-break respite, family support and end-of-life care. The organization has provided parental support, advocacy training, resource and referrals, as well as implemented a sibling support program. As the winner, Scott would expand support services further building the foundation to help more families through Connor’s House.

In addition the year-long sabbatical* (worth $100,000), the winner will also receive a 3-day/2-night trip to a spa resort in Phoenix, AZ, (date TBD) to participate in a one hour life coaching session with O, The Oprah Magazine's life coach Dr. Martha Beck, and will be featured in advertorials in issues of O, The Oprah Magazine. The public can also continue to follow the winner throughout the year as his/her project is chronicled on http://www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

IKEA launched the Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest in 2010 as part of the company’s Life Improvement Project, an initiative designed to inspire and empower people to improve their lives at home, as well as the lives of others in their community. In addition to the contest, the national program consists of: a series of free Life Improvement Store Seminars for consumers, hosted in IKEA stores across the U.S.; a Life Improvement Challenge, providing $10,000 to each of the 38 IKEA stores in the U.S. to help community projects and local charitable organizations/causes; Random Acts of Life Improvement, unexpected activities throughout the year where IKEA directly engages consumers outside of the store to surprise them with free tokens of appreciation to help improve their day; and a Soft Toys for Education Campaign, running from November 1 through December 24, in which IKEA donates 1 euro (approximately $1.35) from the sale of every soft toy, children’s book and finger puppet to partners Save the Children and UNICEF.

For more details on the Life Improvement Project, visit http://www.thelifeimprovementproject.com.

Connect with us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/IKEAUSA) and follow us on Twitter (@DesignByIKEA).

*The grand prize winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work. If the grand prize winner chooses to take leave from employment to work on their project, they can utilize a portion of the prize toward living expenses.

IKEA strives to be ‘The Life Improvement Store,’ and since its 1943 founding in Sweden, has offered home furnishings of good design and function, at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 330 IKEA stores in 40 countries, including 38 in the U.S. IKEA, the world’s leading home furnishings company, incorporates sustainable efforts into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information, go to IKEA-USA.com.

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