By Johanna Read
Don’t you love it when you stay at a hotel that both makes you feel good and that does good too?
Many hotels are going green, which we certainly commend. But far fewer are supporting communities in other ways. The Wayward Post wants to give a shout out to these hotels too.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott chooses to give back by directing their funding and efforts at the arts in various ways.
They work with the nonprofit group Fresh Artists to provide programming and art supplies to local schools which have had their art programs cut. Each SpringHill Suites hotel is partnered with a school deemed to be at or below the poverty level, calculated by the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. Art supplies include markers, Cray-Pas, Model Magic, paints and heavy drawing papers, as well as discontinued paint colour test strips — otherwise destined for the trash — which kids make into gorgeous mosaics.
SpringHill Suites brings their commitment to the arts directly to their guests too. When guests open the door to their rooms, they’ll soon use key cards featuring drawings created by the kids who benefitted from the hotel’s Save Art! program. Kids’ art is also featured on hotel greeting cards and in public spaces.
Fresh Artists makes sure that both the young artists and their families have given legal permission for their art to be reproduced and solicits donations for the art to help generate additional funds to support their programs. This “circle of philanthropy” provides children’s art that fulfills a business need, which then raises money for education and supplies for more young artists. As well, seeing their art publicly displayed in hotels and in gift shops encourages children’s talent, self esteem and generosity.
SpringHill Suites encourages grown-up artists too, and in ways that enhance the experience of their guests. Through their Art of Local program, guests at SpringHill Suites have the opportunity to interact with unique local artists. Guests might encounter artists from Hit+Run screen-printing bags and clothes, painter Catherine Lauerman, or be able to colour drawings by anonymous Chicago muralist Don’t Fret Art, who often draws clever critiques of life in America.
At the September 2016 Chicago launch of Art of Local, Loren Nalewanski, SpringHill Suites’ Vice President and Global Brand Manager, said “We have to have a purpose in order to be successful. We want to connect to the community and we want our guests to connect to the community too”.
Editor’s Note: The author was a guest of SpringHill Suites, but all opinions are her own and no one associated with the hotel reviewed or approved this article.