Aidan (pictured above), a banquet server at one of our properties in Naples, Florida, was home with his family when Hurricane Irma struck the city in October 2017.

He watched in disbelief as 145-mile-an-hour winds struck his house, ripping off shingles and causing a tree and multiple tree limbs to punch holes in his roof.

Aidan and his family hid safely in a closet. But when the storm passed, they were forced to move to a hotel. He had no power for three weeks and his roof and ceilings needed extensive repairs.

My heart goes out to Aidan and anyone else who has suffered such a terrifying experience.

I’m grateful that, at Marriott International, we are able to help our associates at managed properties, like Aidan, who are affected by such emergencies and natural disasters. In fact, we have several tools to assist communities and all of our associates in times of need. What helped Aidan and his family was the TakeCare Relief Fund.

The fund offers need-based financial grants due to certain personal hardship events or natural disasters, year-round. The fund is modeled after a similar program that originated at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in 2006. When Starwood became a part of Marriott in 2016, we embraced its innovation and expanded it.

To date, the fund has helped more than 6,000 associates around the world with $10.5 million in grants for unexpected expenses stemming from tragedies and other family crises.

In the last year alone, the fund has assisted thousands of associates, including dozens of displaced associates who reached out for help with home repairs in the wake of a devastating earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia. Another associate, whose family was rendered homeless by five feet of water in his house due to a massive flood in Kerala, India, needed assistance purchasing virtually everything -- clothing, mattresses, kitchen appliances, furniture, electrical repairs, and even a door.

As part of the integration of Starwood into Marriott, we incorporated this great idea into TakeCare, our company’s commitment to culture and wellbeing, which aims to help associates nurture their bodies, minds, and careers, while also building supporting relationships on the job and doing good work in the communities where we do business.

What I love about the TakeCare Relief Fund is that it’s not just supported financially by the company. Associates make voluntary donations to help their fellow associates. It’s the Marriott way.

As part of our core values, which my dad, J.W. Marriott, established back at our founding in 1927, we have always believed in putting people first. He instilled this notion in us: take care of the associates and they will take care of the customers and the customers will keep coming back.

I’m so proud that almost 100 years later, that mindset is still thriving. We genuinely care about one another.

In this season of love and giving, but also hardship for many, I hope the TakeCare Relief Fund can inspire others to lend a hand. Sometimes the smallest effort can transform a life.

Aidan is still with us at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. The grant from the fund covered part of the down payment of a new roof.

His work isn’t over. But I’m glad Aidan, and our other associates, can take comfort in knowing their fellow associates will be there for them when the storms come.

I'm Bill Marriott and thank you for helping me keep Marriott on the Move!