It’s been a year since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people. Although we don’t have a Marriott property in Haiti, this tragedy affected many of our associates who originally came from Haiti. Our South Florida hotels alone employ more than 1,000 associates from Haiti, most of whom have immediate family in the area affected by the earthquake.
At our Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa approximately 233 of the associates are Haitian. The hotel began their relief efforts immediately after the earthquake hit and one of the first things they did was meet with these associates. They learned that more than 20 percent of their Haitian associates lost family members in the earthquake. One couple lost 13 family members and another lost 10. Many others waited to hear news about their loved ones.
And, in August of last year, five members of the executive committee at our Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, including Jim Mauer, the general manager, as well as two Haitian associates made a trip to Haiti to assist with the ongoing relief. While there, they helped unload cargo containers of food, clothing, emergency supplies and building supplies. They also set up a temporary school house on the GCA site with 32 school room desks that were donated by the hotel. In addition, they spent time delivering clothes and food to local orphanages, while also teaching English to the children living there and playing games with them for fun.
Those who went on the trip speak very passionately about their experience in Haiti and the people they met. One of our team members said, “We learned many lessons about appreciation and having a genuine spirit of hospitality from the wonderful Haitian people. If we remember these lessons and pass them along, we will gain more from the people of Haiti than they did from us.”
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.