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Hospitality in a Crisis.

The entire community of Wilder, KY, got a taste of hospitality the week devastating tornadoes ripped through the northern part of the state. GM Gayle Helmer and her team at Hampton Inn & Suites Wilder worked around the clock for three days laundering, folding, sorting, bagging and labeling clothing donated for storm victims.

When tornadoes ripped through Northern Kentucky in early March, hundreds of residents were affected, and many people lost homes, cars and everything they owned. The day after the disaster, Gayle Helmer, GM at Hampton Inn & Suites Wilder, KY, received a call requesting the hotel’s help in laundering clothing that had been donated for tornado victims. Her resounding answer? Yes, of course.

“Our executive housekeeper confirmed that our linen supplies were adequate to meet our guest needs for Saturday, so we hurried a few more loads to get ahead and prepared to receive the clothing donations,” Helmer says. But they could hardly have prepared for what awaited them — a truck carrying more than 300 bags of clothing! Massive mounds of clothing filled the hotel’s laundry room, and Helmer and her team immediately got to work washing items in the laundry room and then transferring them to the hotel’s meeting rooms, where they were folded, sorted, bagged and tagged.

“When we ran out of space, our executive housekeeper enlisted the assistance of our local fire department to wash some of the donations using the wash machine in their firehouse,” Helmer says. “Some Hampton team members stayed beyond their work shift. Others came to the hotel on their days off to wash, dry, fold and sort all that had been donated.” The hotel’s washers and dryers ran all night long, with community volunteers and even a hotel guest pitching in on the effort.

By 5 a.m. Sunday, the hotel’s laundry room was clear and ready for hotel linens. But then another truck arrived with 75 more bags. On Monday, still more clothing came. By Monday night, all donated clothing and bedding had been laundered, sorted and delivered to a distribution center for tornado victims.

Helmer is proud of the hospitality, kindness and pure generosity displayed by her team in the wake of the disaster. “What happened … is only a small part of what it will take over the next weeks and months for this recovery effort, but I believe this demonstrates the spirit of community,” she says. “I can’t tell you how much I admire the spirit I witnessed in these volunteers and Hampton team members.”

Posted on Mar 29, 2012

Topic(s): Corporate Responsibility / Sustainability, Recent Recognition Ideas

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