Marriott’s “Spirit to Serve” shines in Orlando – Winners of “Give Homelessness a Holiday” Challenge

A few weeks ago we asked for help in finding 30 holiday sponsors for homeless men and women at the Coalition. We were ecstatic with the enthusiastic response we received! As one of many participants and a winner of our “Give Homelessness a Holiday” Challenge, the Orlando World Center Marriott immediately stepped up to the task and requested one individual man and one woman. They later decided to also take on five families! Marriott’s generosity and “Spirit to Serve” make them one of our many valued volunteers this holiday season, and we are proud to share their guest post.

Zachary Long (top right) and Orlando World Center Marriott “Spirit to Serve” Committee; some of the winners of our “Give Homelessness a Holiday” Challenge!

Marriott has a long-standing tradition of service which we call our “Spirit to Serve.” This means that we do the very best to take care of our guests staying in our hotels. The second half of that equation is Marriott’s “Spirit to Serve Our Communities,” the commitment that our hotels will also leave the local community a better place because we are there. Service is in our blood as Marriott employees, as without our guests and without our community we would not be successful. Let me take a moment to personally express my story as a member of the Spirit to Serve Committee here at my hotel, the Orlando World Center Marriott.

While the World Center supports more than one organization around the area, none touches my heart more than Coalition for the Homeless. Living in downtown Orlando, I see the men and women that the Coalition is trying to help every day. What has struck me most about the Coalition is the difference I see in Orlando as compared to other major cities with a large homeless population. We have a homeless problem in our community, there is no denying that; however, I do not feel scared to walk the streets at night and I am not constantly panhandled at the corner. The safety net that the Coalition provides is not only a service to men and women who find themselves in an unfortunate situation, but also a benefit to the city itself. Orlando is the “City Beautiful” and one of the top tourist destinations in the country. No matter how nice a hotel we have, it is also the community and city itself which draw many visitors. Keeping our city safe and beautiful is an indirect result of the actions of the Coalition.

The second reason the Coalition means so much to me personally is our hotel’s on-site volunteer work. Meeting the residents of the Coalition that are taking advantage of the nonprofit’s services has cemented my feelings. When you actually take the time to talk to the men and women is when the stereotypes surrounding homelessness break down. Not everyone is there for a free ride; some of these men and women have been in very unfortunate situations, but are fighting to get their life back together in a very tough economic environment. These residents, whether in the transitional housing program or working with a counselor, are doing their best under the current conditions to change their lives. Coalition for the Homeless is making this all happen and deserves our praise, and more importantly, our full support.

If Marriott can contribute just a little bit to the overall cause by our quarterly feeding program or various other activities throughout the year, such as holiday sponsorships, then maybe we are making a difference as well. Giving back to my community is part of who I am as a person and as a Marriott employee.

My thanks to the Coalition for this opportunity to help,

Zachary Long
Orlando World Center Marriott Spirit to Serve Committee