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VOL. 128 | NO. 199 | Friday, October 11, 2013

Room Service

Hilton employees give back with makeover of homeless shelter

By Michael Waddell

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Hilton Worldwide celebrates its second Global Week of Service this week, and more than 700 Hilton employees are working locally on community involvement projects, such as this year’s signature event at the Pilgrim’s Rest housing facility, 747 Court Ave.

Bill Duncan, global head of Homewood Suites and Home2Suites by Hilton, works with other volunteers to unload mattresses at Pilgrim’s Rest housing facility. The project is part of Hilton Worldwide’s Global Week of Service. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The facility is operated by Door of Hope – a nonprofit outreach of Lindenwood Christian Church – and provides shelter for the homeless.

“Our annual Global Week of Service is part of our community outreach program called ‘Travel with a Purpose,’ so all across the globe, our corporate offices, regional offices and hotels are out in our local communities, giving back through various service projects,” said Bill Duncan, global head of Homewood Suites & Home2 Suites by Hilton.

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, Duncan and more than 125 volunteers performed an extreme makeover of the Door of Hope facility, which provides services and resources to men and women who are chronically homeless, focusing on community integration and allowing them to live securely and independently.

“This changes everything for us in a matter of weeks. Our facility goes from an old, depressing place to live, to one of the nicest facilities for this kind of program in the city,” said Andy Jacuzzi, Door of Hope executive director. “It’s impressive and very humbling. When our residents return today, the 15 guest rooms will have new bed frames, box springs and mattresses, bedding, dressers, night stands, desks, desk chairs, lounge chairs and window coverings, as well as new hardwood floors and doors, and that’s just in their rooms.”

The goal at Door of Hope, Jacuzzi said, is to maximize the residents’ potential, reintegrate them into society and hopefully graduate them from the program so they can live again on their own and be productive members of society, and he feels the new surroundings will help to instill more confidence and inspire them.

Hilton Worldwide employees Cathy Andrews (left) and Tracy Moss apply a fresh coat of paint in the stairwell at Pilgrim’s Rest housing facility.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Duncan said the fact that Hilton employees provided the volunteer hours for this project proved to be a good match.

“We are excited to be a part of the total transformation of this wonderful facility that is permanent housing for formerly homeless individuals,” Duncan said. “In the hotel business, hospitality is so important, and we think Door of Hope does just that, so it is a perfect fit for our business and what we believe in.”

Other highlights of the project include new lighting and appliances; creating storage; cleaning, painting and refurnishing the basement, recreation and laundry room; and setting up a living, dining and meeting area.

The group of volunteers also installed a privacy fence and added landscaping to improve the facility’s curb appeal.

A Hilton volunteer paints one of the facility’s rooms.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Home Depot partnered on the event, bringing a skilled labor force to perform construction work.

In the 1960s, the building served as a fraternity house for the nearby University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and much of the property had never been properly renovated.

“To start the program, Home Depot came out and replaced all of the flooring in the guest bedrooms, ripped out all of the old shelving that were sagging, fixed tile work and sheetrock work that need repair, boxed in exposed pipes in our rec area, cleaned the roof and painted the exterior,” Jacuzzi said.

Elsewhere in the city on Wednesday, Hilton volunteers worked at the Soulsville Charter School campus, and on Thursday, they opened a new local library at Cottonwood School – the third such library Hilton has helped open through its partnership with Shelby County Head Start.

“We believe early childhood literacy is very important,” Duncan said. “Some disadvantaged schools only have a total of 10 to 12 books and no library, so by the time these libraries are put into these specific schools, they will have several thousand books that we encourage both children and parents to check out and read to build literacy skills.”

Other Hilton projects happening locally this week include assembling 20,000 meals for the Mid-South Food Bank at the company’s corporate office; assembling 500 hospitality kits for Dress for Success, Union Mission and Mariah House; collecting canned goods and clothing for Memphis-area missions; and creating holiday cards for military members.

Throughout the week, thousands of Hilton Worldwide employees spanning 90 countries will participate in hundreds of hands-on service projects, which focus on engaging Hilton employees and delivering on the company’s “Travel with Purpose” community outreach program by creating opportunities, strengthening communities, celebrating cultures and living sustainably.

This year, the company hopes to complete more than 1,200 service projects. Last year during Hilton Worldwide’s inaugural Global Week of Service, employees at more than 600 properties and offices completed more than 800 volunteer projects in 401 cities around the world.

The Hilton Worldwide brand encompasses Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.

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