COVID19 has overtaken our lives. Hotels, restaurants, theme parks have closed. More industry jobs than I can count are lost, temporarily or permanently. Each day my email box is loaded with stories of facts and gloom, but there is also hope for our future. There are charming and funny parody songs, stories of heroes on the front lines, whether a grocery store or an understaffed, overworked, undersupplied hospital. We all know the little things in life (finding toilet paper, eggs, and sanitizer) have become priorities, while balancing suddenly having to be a parent, a remote worker, teacher, and guardian of safety protocols even when errant family members or friends choose to dismiss concerns as needless or hype.
We now know all that too well. I hesitated to write my monthly (if not more often) Hotel Happenings & Program Promotions blog because I thought we are already on information-overload. Then I looked at my inbox again. There are gestures by companies saluting their employees or giving to communities in need. We all need inspiration. We need to be needed. We need to know the world may never be the same as it was, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be better days ahead.
With that in mind, I plan to provide an outlet for some of the positives I hear about in the hospitality, meetings & events industries. The stories of everyday heroes, from the postman now buying groceries for shut-ins incapable of shopping for themselves, to the cops who paraded their lights in front of a sick young boy’s house whose birthday would otherwise be not celebrated, you can find on social media or the television.
A Louisville, KY leather shop know for handcrafter designs from belts and bags to coasters has risen to the challenge of creating a half-million medical PPE (personal protective equipment) face shields for frontline medical workers both locally and across the United States. Clayton & Crume owners and fraternity brothers, Clay Simpson and Tyler Jury, closed their retail shop and had to furlough their 25 employees. While trying to figure out how to still be useful, Jury remembered the safety mask he used during dental school (yes, he is a practicing dentist) while extracting teeth. They sourced fabrics, padding, plastics, foam and other materials from around the city. The goal was to create something that could help protect healthcare workers serving on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis. Their end result was a prototype for a face shield that features a plastic cover, a thick foam forehead strip and an elastic strap. Initially they sought to make a 1,000 that would be delivered to Louisville hospitals and immediate care centers. Within 24 hours, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s office placed an order for a half million of the plastic face shields. Production has begun at a special 20,000-sf production facility in Louisville.
“We’re eager to put our skills to use in the fight against COVID-19 and to help play a small role in keeping the state we love safe,” Simpson said. “Clayton & Crume began with a mission to make leather goods that last. While we anxiously wait for life to return to ‘normal,’ we are responding to the challenge that lies ahead with that same spirit and intention – to create by hand what is tested and lasting.” (NOTE: I reached out to get updates on whether the company has successfully been able to make hundreds of face shields and whether they might have rehired former workers to retrain for this new opportunity. I have heard nothing back.)
An EF-2 tornado with winds of 125 mph devasted homes and buildings on March 5 in North Nashville and Germantown. To assist, the Convention Center Authority donated $50,000 to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee fund on behalf of the Music City Center staff. “The devastation from the tornado impacted many people and businesses in our community, including some from our team,” said Charles Starks, President/CEO of Music City Center. “On behalf of our team, we are making a donation as we stand together with our community.” The Music City Center, Nashville’s convention center, features a 353,143 sf exhibit hall, 57,500 sf Karl F. Dean Grand Ballroom, and 18,000 sf Davidson Ballroom. It also contains the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
Caesars Entertainment, one of the world’s most diversified gaming and entertainment companies, has long been known for its charitable contributions. The company has reached out again, by donating food and essential personal protection equipment across the country to assist healthcare workers, law enforcement and more. I don’t have the most updated info, but as of March 26, the company had supplied more than 250,000 pounds of food, equivalent to approximately 208,000 meals to numerous food banks and charities. They also had provided thousands of items including gloves, masks and hand sanitizer to local hospitals, first responders and local charities. All Caesars Entertainment resorts and casinos across the United States have volunteered to assist their local communities, including in Las Vegas. Here is a brief list of resort/casino properties and what they have gifted, and to whom:
Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas Resorts – about 116,000 lbs perishable food items to Three Square Food Bank and gloves, masks and sanitizers from inventory to University Medical Center (UMC), Las Vegas.
Caesars Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City – more than 40,000 lbs of food to Community Food Bank of Southern New Jersey, Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. Additionally, food not suitable for human consumption to animal rescues in need like The Funny Farm in Mays Landing, NJ.
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino – 15,000 lbs of food to the Ak-Chin Indian Community.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California – more than 8,000 lbs of produce and refrigerated items to the San Diego Food Bank, as well as 805 lbs to The Foundry Escondido.
Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino – more than 8,000 lbs of food to the Mid-South Food Bank, Memphis Union Mission, and Sacred Heart Mission.
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore – 7,500 lbs of food to the Maryland Food Bank and other organizations. Horseshoe Baltimore is also partnering with Thread, Inc., Union Baptist Church and New Psalmist Baptist Church to ensure the food reaches those in need.
Harrah’s New Orleans – 7,852 lbs of food to Second Harvest Food Bank New Orleans.
Horseshoe Casino Bossier City, LA – 7,000 lbs of food to Bossier Schools and The Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana.
Harrah’s Kansas City Hotel & Casino – 5,000 lbs of produce and one pallet of dairy to the North Kansas City YMCA.
Indiana Grand Racing & Casino (Shelbyville, IN) – 4,000 lbs of perishable food to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
Harrah’s Reno – 150 lbs of food to Food Bank of Northern Nevada, 500 meals to Catholic Charities and 100 meals to Gospel Mission.
Harrah’s Laughlin Hotel & Casino – over $13,000 of food to local agencies including Laughlin Meals on Wheels, Food for Families, The Arc and Laughlin Food Bank, along with several cases of toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotions to Living Waters Hospice, Hospice of Havasu and Billet Home Health & Hospice.
Harrah’s Council Bluffs Hotel & Casino and Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino – 7,600 lbs of food to employees.
FREE GUIDE FOR WHITEWATER RAFTING IN UTAH
Holiday River Expeditions understands that knowledge of rivers upon which you may raft will add to your enjoyment and safety. Based on their 50 years of river rafting, the professionals have compiled their expertise into The Complete Guide to Whitewater Rafting Trips in Utah, a resource offered free and online at https://www.bikeraft.com/the-complete-guide-to-whitewater-rafting-trips-in-utah/. Sure, they’d like you to sign up for a group trip when we’re past the coronavirus quarantines, but this guide may give you something to study in the meantime. The guidebook reveals facts and history surrounding seven Utah river trips, written by seven experts who know the rivers in the Colorado River basin. Information will include the types of adventures best suited for that river, signature rapids, best off-river hikes, and the types of watercraft used on each. While Lauren Wood, Trip Director for Holiday River Expeditions explained that the company’s general pre-trip information packets contain any necessary prep and logistical details for Holiday’s trips, these new insiders’ guides are also “”A great tool for anyone looking for digestible and accessible intelligence on these oft unfamiliar landscapes.”
Holiday River Expeditions is the only rafting outfitter that navigates these waterways by oar-power only, without the use of motors or motorized support.
(800) 624-6323; Holiday@BikeRaft.com; http://www.bikeraft.com/.
September 5: New date for the 146th annual Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby Festival will also alter its schedule around this event’s new date. The race has been run since 1875.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2019 – 2020 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the second consecutive year. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. Karen@KarenKuzsel.com;
www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.