Part of being a part of the hospitality industry means not only taking care of guests who walk through our doors, but being a compassionate member of the communities that we serve and those who live in them.
As a Sonesta International Hotel, The Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel follows a culture of caring philosophy that extends beyond the hotel and into the neighborhoods that surround us. We have made it a priority to create unique partnerships with organizations that are tackling homelessness, unemployment and mental health, right here in St. Louis. And the results have been ten-fold.
When we invest in our community, not only do our partner organizations benefit, but so do our employees and guests. There’s a sense of pride among our staff and a sense of loyalty among our guests who appreciate the meaningful connections with organizations who share our value of celebrating individuals from all walks of life.
In 2018, The Chase Park Plaza formed a relationship with Bridge Bread, a nonprofit bakery providing job opportunities for people experiencing homelessness in St. Louis. Their mission is to teach homeless individuals to bake bread, which enables them to earn an income.
We saw an opportunity with Bridge Bread to help our very own neighbors rebuild their lives.
Today, our commitment to purchase over 30,000 rolls from Bridge Bread each year has resulted in two additional bakers being hired at Bridge Bread, and due to the superb product Bridge Bread produces, we recently have referred Bridge Bread to all major hotels in St. Louis to consider purchasing bread from the organization.
Since Bridge Bread started more than seven years ago, more than half of the bakers have remained housed and employed, equating to a 60 percent success rate. It’s amazing that with a little support, those who have fallen on hard times can once again become valuable contributing members of our community.
Another example of our investment is the hotel’s partnership with the Independence Center, a community-based rehabilitation program for adults with mental illnesses. The Independence Center partners with businesses that hire transitional employees to gain real-world work experience by working alongside staff and employees in their daily jobs.
For the past year, The Chase Park Plaza has welcomed 18 employees who wish to achieve gainful employment in the area of stewardship. With the help of staff and executive leadership, transitional employees are trained in various areas, from housekeeping and grounds keeping, to food service and customer service, and more importantly, they are learning adaptability, self-management and social skills to cultivate relationships.
If you are thinking about extending hospitality outside of your hotel and into the surrounding community, consider the following tips:
- Identify partnerships with organizations whose mission and values align with your own.
- Focus on quality, rather than quantity. Take the time to establish and mature the relationships between one or two organizations, instead of trying to maintain multiple ones.
- Evaluate the skills and talents of your own staff to see how they can play a role in the partnerships you create.
- Finally, once you start seeing the success of your involvement, be sure to share it with your staff, guests and the surrounding community, so they too can embrace your culture of giving back.