"The ECF reminds us what life is really about" It was the film screened in December 2014 at the Benefit Gala of the EuroParcs Charity Foundation (ECF) in Susteren that opened the eyes of the EuroParcs board.
, We are entrepreneurs that work with energetic investors, and we receive happy families at our resorts taking a week-long, weekend or midweek vacation", director Wim Vos Jr. tells us "The everyday hustle and bustle shifts social issues, such as care for the vulnerable, to the background of our experience. But that film forced us to face facts. Precisely because we as a company are so successful, we should not forget the needs of those most in need, such as children with cancer. Also, we are a family business ourselves, so we know how important a good family life is."
And not only that, but Wim Vos Jr., his younger brother Wouter, and their father Wim Vos sr. have all been raised with religious values. "I repeat, the life of an entrepreneur is busy, busier, busiest, but on Christmas and Easter, we still attend church with the family. Even before ECF was founded, we regularly took the time for reflection on moral issues. However, what the priest or pastor teaches is theoretical. The ECF showed us how to put it all into practice."
That refers to the directors Mienie, Josefina, and Sylvana Fox, who formed the foundation for the establishment of ECF in 2012. "The men had nothing to do with it", explains Wim Vos Jr. "They came up with the idea, and of course we have supported it since the beginning, but only from the background. They themselves had a website built, went looking for sponsors, and above all contacted organizations directly involved with families with children suffering from cancer. Take for example the interest-group VOKK (Association of Parents, Children and Cancer, ed.) and the Gaandeweg Foundation, who organize short vacantions for the affected families, including those who have lost a child to this terrible disease."
EuroParcs has assisted ECF since its establishment by offering free holiday accommodation to the affected families. EuroParcs still does so today: mid-2016, over two hundred families with children fighting against cancer, or who have lost a child to it, have enjoyed a holiday at one of the Europarcs resorts. "This is important not only for the sick child, who can finally get away from the hospital environment, but also for parents and brothers and sisters," Wim Vos tells Jr. tells us "Parents are under large amounts of stress for months on end, or even longer. Often one of them quit his or her job to care for their sick child. And siblings often don't get enough attention in these situations. For them, such a vacation is a blessing."
Again, it was the film at the Benefit Gala at EuroParcs Resort Limburg in Susteren that moved the EuroParcs members of the board to tears. And that was not all. First of all, a considerable amount of money was donated by EuroParcs at the gala to build the first Whopper Castle at the very same resort: a holiday home decorated with a complete focus on accommodating vulnerable children suffering from cancer. In addition, the ECF has been more strongly connected with the family business since 2015. Wim Vos Jr. says, "What that means is, the ambassadors of the ECF still operate independently, and the foundation is still an independent organization, but we now make it more clear than ever that there is a connection between ECF and EuroParcs. We stress that this is not a business decision, but an emotional one. Our wives have shown us that there is more to life than business. We simply feel more involved."
This became clear during this spring, as Saturday 14th, 2016 is set to become a very special day in the annals of ECF, as well as the VOKK and the Gaandeweg Foundation. This is the day when a second Whopper Castle was born. With the support of EuroParcs, this time the location was not a resort, but a very special location that became the backdrop for a Benefit Dinner: the winter garden of the Hotel Krasnapolsky on Dam Square in Amsterdam. Wim Fox Jr. says, "The aim was to spoil the guests culinary and musically, and also to make them aware of what the ECF stands for and what it does." Once again, an impressive film was screened in which parents of children suffering from cancer spoke about their experiences, and how happy they were with the free vacations they were offered thanks to ECF. "I felt tears welling up again", says Wim Vos Jr., "But that was true of the whole room. A sum of nearly 70,000 euros was donated, half more than at the Benefit Gala in Susteren!"
The result is a second Whopper Castle to be built at EuroParcs Resort Lake Veluwe at Nunspeet. Even more than Wim Vos Jr. or ambassadors of the ECF, Angela Poort of VOKK expresses its value best: "There are many companies and organizations that do something for affected families once the children have recovered, but there are not many that take action when the families need it most. And what an initiative the Benefit Evening at the Krasnapolsky was ... Even the the venue by itself! There weren't even that many people invited, and the amount that rolled out was more than I have ever seen at any benefit. And it is truly necessary ... When you see the joy of the sick children when they stay at the Whopper Castle with their parents, brothers and sisters in EuroParcs Resort Limburg in Susteren ... There are no words to describe it. I am very pleased that a second Whopper Castle is on the way."
Of course, Wim Vos Jr. agrees. "EuroParcs is growing faster than ever, and we as its management are obviously very happy, but we look at it differently since the Benefit Gala at end of 2014. However ambitious we are, we are able to reflect on it better thanks to the ECF. We are grateful to our wives, of course, because in the end, I think the man behind the entrepreneur is more important than the entrepreneur."