The member spotlight was created to give members an opportunity to showcase themselves to their fellow Chamber members and to the community. The business that wins the member spotlight will be featured for one month on our Weekly eVents emails, the Chamber’s website, and in our new, quarterly newsletter Crossroads.
Dr. Stephen Swymer, Board Member and Senior Education Advisor, iHi International,inc
What is your position with iHi International, Inc. and how long have you worked for iHi International, Inc.?
I am a board member and Senior Education Advisor for iHi International, which is a nonprofit organization. I have been involved volunteering from the start as both board Secretary, and helping to train teachers and those who work with kids in our project locations. As a retired Great Valley School District Middle School Principal I can’t think of a better way to be spending my retirement! I was never one for golf or relaxing too much.
In a nutshell, what does iHi International provide its customers? How would you describe iHi International to a potential client?
We support people, vulnerable people in some of the most difficult and forgotten places of the world. We say we support VIPs (vulnerable international people). We like that because it expresses they are valuable people in the midst of their difficult circumstances. We partner with local groups to identify needs and work to fill those needs whether that is training, providing equipment, conducting evaluations, or providing other types of responsive supports. The main focus is on empowerment and capacity building; that is one of the reasons why I love training teachers, they have so much to give and if we can help develop the skills and encourage them, they change lives and that just keeps going and going.
Tell us about iHi International’s history and any unique facts. What makes iHi International stand out from others?
We were founded out of the vision of our CEO, Chris Tabakin. He saw needs of people, especially those with disabilities and felt there was more to be done. We are unique in that we are responsive to actual needs. That is why we always work with local partners, they know the needs and we come alongside them. We have the tagline that “we bring the world together to support VIPs.” There is a real unifying aspect of our work and I think especially right now that is something that is a huge need in our world.
What do you do to serve your clients best?
We meet them where they are at. We take in to account the needs, the culture, the environment, the reality really and work to empower them. We don’t assume needs, we find out what they are and THEN we respond with experts and skilled partners to support where we can.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
The individual lives that are changed, that is what is we are most proud of. That one teacher in a place like Iraq who you can see is so eager to take the things she learned and get back in to the class. That look, that excitement of that one person makes all the work worthwhile. It is the lives of people like Emacurate, a woman in Uganda who had polio and hasn’t been able to walk since birth and how we were able to provide her something as simple as a wheelchair and that changed her life. The smile, the look of empowerment and excitement that she will be more independent now and not have to crawl around everywhere. Those are the lives changed, and to know there are hundreds and hundreds more just like them we’ve been privileged to assist in some way is humbling and awesome. We are proud of that.
Why is iHi International a member of the Exton Region Chamber of Commerce?
Like our tagline says about bringing the world together, we know that the Exton Chamber is a real huge part of that. The Chamber does a great job at bringing together businesses and nonprofits because we all need each other. Businesses are increasingly driven by expectations of corporate social responsibility, and nonprofits have much to learn and glean from the work with businesses from volunteers, to donations, to board members. It really is a win-win. We are so happy to be members of the Exton Chamber.