Pathways to Independence

February 27, 2007

Hi, my name is Valerie McSwain, I am a concierge at the Washington Marriott, and here today, I am guest blogging for Mr. Marriott.

Before I came to Marriott about 11 years ago, I was on welfare; and at that particular time, I knew that that wasn't enough to take care of my family. So, they had a program called the Pathways program, which was a program to help families get off welfare and to become employed.  I truly thank God for the Pathways program because it truly led me to a life of freedom, job opportunities, better education like never before and it's truly been a blessing to my family.

When I first started with Marriott, my first job here was at the front desk. But, at that time I was computer illiterate, so I moved on to the restaurant - I was a hostess in the restaurant.  Then from there, I did room service - as well as room service operator - and my wonderful General Manager - that we had before - noticed my personality and he came to me one day and said, "Valerie, I want you in the concierge lounge because I feel like you can make a difference."  And, I've been in the concierge lounge ever since and it's truly been a blessing to me because I enjoy people from all nationalities and all cultures.  I enjoy my job. I enjoy making people happy. And if I can just see a smile on someone's face, it makes me happy.  It's not just a job to me.

It made a huge difference in my life, as well as my family's life, because I didn't have a car, for one, and working at the Marriott, I was able to buy a car.  And I was able to help put my kids through school - I have two sons who go to Morgan State University, one is in his senior year of college, the other is in his first, and I have a daughter who just graduated with her Master's degree.  So being employed at the Washington Marriott has truly helped me to take better care of my family.

My future ambition is to write a book - to tell the beautiful ladies and children out there, "You can make it!"  In spite of the obstacles in your life, in spite of what you have gone through, just hold your head above the water.  I pray to write a book so I can tell my story.  I just want to share with the people out there that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  There are job opportunities and there's better education out there for your children, and if I did it, you can do it too.

Marriott's got it going on!  It's keeping me on the move - I'm never going to stop. I'm going to keep loving and keep laughing.  We're going to grow together, we are team players and we are truly a wonderful family.

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We just met Valerie in the Concierge and have already enjoyed her bright shining personality. Good job Valerie.

Congratulations Valerie! It's really nice to read your success stories.

Hi Valerie i was touch by your story as i read them it gives me a courage, insperation and another hope, i also work in a hotel here in the phillipines (traders hotel) as a housekeeping room attendant and just like you i started here as public area attendant then after a week my manager said he will train me as a room attendant im very happy when im start my traing ive learn a lot from my co workers and they give me advise to improve my skills and talents and im very thankful to them. and even im working on traders hotel i have more ambitions for my family thats why im working hard to give them a better life, i want to work abroad and i want to find a more challeging job and better opportunities and if this opportunity will come i will grab it. i want to help my family and give my children a better future. thanks!! more power and god bless.

Judy I'm sorry it took me so long to get to you.what are you interestedin take some time and ask God, lord what is my destiny.Follow your heart and you will get your answer.please let me know

To Betsy Laws,Sorry I couldn'tget into with you early. Betsy if they have an opening go head an applied for it.Because if people are your passion it would be the right job for you. Please let me know.

Hi Valerie,
I understand they are building a Marriott in our community and I am greatly interested in working for them as a concierge as well. I applied through the website I am so excited about Marriott coming to our community. They do not have the location listed as of yet so I'm not sure when the project will be finished or when they will begin hiring. If you can help me with any information, I will greatly appreciate it.

Although I am currently working but not in the industry, how do you suggest I get started. I am a single mom, sending 2 girls through college and am at the stage of my life where I want to do something that makes a difference. While reading your story here, I felt it was how I feel...I just want to make a difference especially for someone who needs to be comfortable away from home.
I would apprecate some feed back. Thank you.

My family of four was on our Spring Break vacation in D.C. at the Marriott the first week of April. Valerie welcomed us on the concierge level every single morning with open arms. She started our day with a smile and made sure that we were comfortable and ready to go, for our fun filled, busy day in D.C. She had such a gentle and kind character about her, as this is a gift that you cannot put a price tag on. There is simply no way that you can describe this kind of value and benefit in a brochure about your Marriott hotel. When someone like Valerie touches your life while you are away for pleasure, business or otherwise YOU ARE THE ONE TRULY BLESSED! Thanks a million Valerie and Marriott.

Your story is inspirational. My 17 year old daughter is interested in a career in hospitality, and everyone says that Marriott is the place to go for meaningful internships and on the job training experience. WHat advice to you have for such a kid. I told her that involves making a bed and cleaning up after a meal (things that come to her with difficulty) - but she is undeterred. We live in your area...any advice for her? Thanks.

Congratulations on everything you have accomplished and I hope you all the best in your future endeavors.

Fist to Val thank you for being the light house that you are! may your light continue to shine brighter than ever! God bless.Second to Mr Marriott you have in your employ one of the worlds wonderful people that we don't get to meet as often as we should to make the world a better place to be! Thank You Both!

As a very frequent morning guest in Valaries concierge lounge, I witness her phenomenal personality and can say that she is sincere and the best at what she does. Its obvious she loves her job & the people that she deals with at the hotel. I also have to say that in all the many times we have spoken, she exudes great pride in her children, and their accomplishments with their education. It wouldn't have happened without her pushing then and guiding them. Valarie, you should be as proud of yourself as you are of your children. You really are an upbeat, sincere and likeable woman. Marriott could only hope to employ mor individuals of your character! Bill

As someone that has benefited from Val's unequaled service and spirit, I can tell you that Marriott merely uncovered a jewel. God Bless you Val.

When I'm in DC from Phoenix for business I try to stay at the Marriott. I enjoying seeing Val's smiling face in the morning, singing and welcoming all to the lounge. Great story Val and thanx for sharing (Another day in paradise!)

Marriott is making this world a better place one life at a time. Thanks Marriott!

When I became a single mom I had no money and not even decent clothes to wear for work. A starting position at a Marriott Residence Inn front desk was my first step out of a very hard and difficult situation. I was treated like family and our general manager used every opportunity to encourage, train, and promote those of us who wanted to grow. I own my own business now and credit my success to the years I was priviledged to work for Marriott. The training truly awakened the spirit to serve in me and taught me to follow my heart.
Thank you for sharing your story, it brought back so many wonderful memories of those years I spent working for Marriott.
A sincere thanks to you Mr. Marriott. You probably do not know all of the lives you have touched and changed for the better by your spirit of service.

Your story has inspired me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your Marriott experience. I believe you will continue to do great things and I hope to read your book one day.

Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt story, Valerie. I enjoyed it so much I posted as one of Brandon's Favorites over at CEO Blog Watch. I wish you well in your future endeavors.

Your journey is extraordinary and continue to excel serving as an example for so many who are in need of the kind of inspiration shared by you here and beyond.

Congratulations Valerie! It's really nice to hear success stories like yours.

Lovely and very well written story! I can feel your spirit through your words and it is as beautiful as your smile! Thank you so much for your uplifting and inspiring tale.

I have been a loyal guest of Marriott since 1986 and It is always joy to see as well as learn of those who are embracing the path of true growth. I am proud of you. I uplift you in continued prayer.

Congratulations ! On your success. Great idea to write a book. Its easy now with a lot of resources online. Good luck. If I am in your hotel i will make sure I stopby to say hello.

Great post and great idea to have associate guest blogger.
regards from France

See what God can do when you trust, have faith, and believe. The sky is the limit! Can't wait to see the book in Barnes and Nobles!