Houston Hospitality Leaders Unite to Help Industry Workers Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

September 27, 2017

A month after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category 4 hurricane, many coastal communities in the Lone Star State now are in the process of picking up the pieces. An unprecedented storm that affected thousands of people in the greater Houston area, Harvey not only flooded homes but also disrupted businesses, including area restaurants and hotels – and their employees.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 330,000 people work in the Houston leisure and hospitality industry, employees that especially are vulnerable to natural disasters like hurricanes when hotels and restaurants are forced to close their doors en masse.

Fortunately, these kinds of events tend to bring out the best in humanity, and in Houston this was no exception, with countless examples of strength, resilience and genuine kindness by friends, families, co-workers, neighbors and complete strangers displayed in Houston during and after the storm.

This spirit of kindness and compassion also extends to Houston’s hospitality industry, as evidenced by the recent launch of the Houston Hospitality Employee Relief Fund, created by Visit Houston, the Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston (HLAGH) and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association (GHRA), which joined forces to help hospitality and tourism-related employees impacted by the hurricane.

“Houston has hospitality in its DNA, and our industry employees are what make Houston the welcoming city that visitors and locals alike have grown to love,” said Mike Waterman, president of Visit Houston.

He continued, “As the leaders of the hospitality industry, we are compelled to do what’s in our hearts and collectively help those, particularly the hourly workers in our industry, who have been hurt by Hurricane Harvey. We want to do what we can to make life a little easier for the people who have spent their careers making life better for our guests visiting Houston.”

The Houston Hospitality Employee Relief Fund is open to employees who perform any hospitality or tourism industry-related services, including hotels, restaurants, theaters, arenas, stadiums, attractions or any organization that directly sells or promotes Houston as a destination.

“The GHRA is pleased to partner with Visit Houston and the HLAGH to raise funds that will be distributed directly to hospitality industry workers in the Houston area,” said Jonathan Horowitz, president of GHRA.

He continued, “The flooding has impacted so many of our businesses and employees, so it is imperative that we do everything possible to help them get through this difficult time. The response to the devastation from the hospitality industry has been nothing short of amazing. We are very proud to be a part of this fantastic community and we look forward to supporting those who work so hard each day to exemplify the meaning of the word ‘hospitality.’”

Intended to provide supplemental support to employees for any financial losses they may have incurred as a result of Harvey, the emergency relief fund has so far raised just over $ 100,000 and is in the process of setting up an online employee application process that should be live as early as next week, according to Visit Houston officials.

“Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston is honored to partner with both Visit Houston and the GHRA to assist the thousands of employees who strive daily to lift up our city, and make Houston a welcoming and hospitable destination,” said Stephanie Haynes, president of HLAGH.

She added, “While the majority of hotels are fully operational, we know there are industry employees who have been impacted, both personally and professionally, and we are proud to offer them support through these difficult times.”

To make an individual or organizational contribution to the Houston Hospitality Employee Relief Fund, go here.

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