One of my favorite days of the year is Marriott’s worldwide day of volunteerism known as “Spirit to Serve Our Communities Day.”
I like to help out, especially in the kitchen. So this year, I visited the Universities at Shady Grove campus in Maryland to talk to its hospitality students about our industry. Together we prepared meals for those in need.
One of the most important messages I shared was our company’s guiding principle called “Spirit to Serve.” “Spirit to Serve” is not only about helping our guests, but it reaches out to the community through volunteerism. On this special day, I learned all about Café Reconcile. It’s a non-profit restaurant, located in the severely distressed Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, one of my very favorite cities. It serves as a training ground for ambitious students who want a career in the food service industry. This program is a recipe for improving one’s life skills. An important part of that recipe is learning how to cook-up some of the best Po Boys and gumbo in all of New Orleans.
Our Ritz-Carlton New Orleans associates learned about Café Reconcile a few years ago and started to volunteer on their days off.
Today, The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans has made Café Reconcile a volunteer partner. Through the hotel’s Community Footprints program, it provides financial and in-kind donations. But that’s not all. Students visit the hotel for cooking demonstrations, mentoring and internships. It’s hands-on experience in one of the top kitchens in the country. But the partnership with Café Reconcile doesn’t stop there. Many recent graduates who interned in our kitchen are now working full time.
Whether at Café Reconcile New Orleans or Universities at Shady Grove in Maryland, it’s all about building stronger communities.
One quick footnote on New Orleans: we’re issuing our Katrina Disaster Relief Report. In the first five years after the hurricane struck, we contributed six million dollars and hundreds of volunteer hours. So, check out the report and find out more about our efforts to rebuild New Orleans.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move.