Swissôtel Chicago has been selected as a recipient of AccorHotels' prestigious Global Bernaches Team Award for its pioneering partnership with SOS Children's Villages Illinois, a non-profit, child-welfare agency that serves children in foster care and at-risk youth in nearby communities, in some of Chicago’s highest crime neighborhoods.
The award applauds Swissôtel Chicago's unwavering commitment to supporting a brighter future for hundreds of Chicago's most at-risk children, driving positive change through action, and inspiring others to do the same. Described as innately ingrained in the hotel's culture, Swissôtel Chicago's now multi-faceted SOS Illinois outreach initiative began as a fundraising campaign in early 2015. .
“The leadership of Swissôtel Chicago has set a new standard for corporate social responsibility,” said Tim McCormick, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. “Swissôtel Chicago has proven that when individuals in an organization marshal resources for the betterment of those around them, true authentic social change can take place. This type of change transforms not only the life of a child, but also a community.”
A full roster of annual, hotel-hosted events for SOS Illinois children and their Foster Parents include the program's flagship fitness and wellness-focused Vitality Day, Career Day, etiquette classes, Zumba party, Mother's Day luncheon, summer picnic, Harvest Festival, and holiday VIP experience in Swissôtel Chicago's Santa Suite.
"The interpersonal connections that have been made through these experiences are nothing short of life-changing," said Mark Huntley, Regional Vice President and General Manager, Swissôtel Chicago, "not only for the SOS Illinois families, but for our colleagues as well."
In May 2016, Swissôtel Chicago colleagues kicked off gardening season by helping the SOS Illinois children and families weed, mulch and plant Village vegetable gardens. Modeled after Steven Ritz's nationally-acclaimed Green Bronx Machine in New York City, the Swissôtel Chicago SOS Illinois gardening project strives to inspire and educate the children on gardening, healthy eating and environmental responsibility.
Today, the majority of all Swissôtel Chicago SOS Illinois fundraising efforts are directed toward the green garden project, including the most recent purchase and installation of state-of-the-art indoor growing towers. Additional funds are used to send SOS Illinois children to Greenheart International’s Camp Greenheart, a summer camp in Chicago’s far northwest suburbs dedicated to fostering creativity, teamwork and leadership skills through exploring and engaging with nature.
"High crime rates and gang-related shootings are an all-too-prevalent reality in the areas of Chicago where our SOS Illinois families, and many of our hotel colleagues live," said Huntley. "Rather than be immobilized by the devastating statistics, we have taken it upon ourselves to become a part of the solution."
One originally unanticipated outcome of Swissôtel Chicago's SOS Illinois partnership, according to Huntley, has been its positive impact on colleague recruitment, engagement and retention.
"Our passion is rooted in the realization that any small gesture of kindness can inspire hope," said Swissôtel Chicago Marketing Manager Brittany Robbins, who has played a key role in the coordination and proliferation of the hotel's SOS Illinois outreach initiatives. "If one small gesture can make an impact, then surely, as a team, we can inspire hope on a monumental scale."
The Global Bernaches Team Award is the most recent among a number of accolades Swissôtel Chicago has received, including SOS Children's Villages Illinois' 2016 Distinguished Corporate Leadership Award. Mark Huntley, Regional Vice President & General Manager, Swissôtel Chicago, was also the recipient of the 2016 Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association Hotelier of the Year for the Chicago Region.
About SOS Children's Villages Illinois
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, founded over 25 years ago, is a 501(c)3 child welfare agency that provides a stable home in a supportive, community environment designed to help children in need grow into caring, productive, and self-reliant adults. The SOS Children’s Villages model differs from traditional foster care in emphasizing the following four components: 1) Children live together with their siblings, 2) Children receive care and support from a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent, 3) Children grow up in a private, single-family home, 4) Children are supported by the Village, designed as an intentional community of care.
SOS Children's Villages Illinois unites brothers and sisters in foster care and provides a safe space to heal for at-risk youth. Currently, the organization operates four sites: three Villages providing sibling group foster care at an 18-home Village (opened in 1993) in Lockport, Illinois; a 19-home Village (opened in 2004) in the Auburn Gresham, Englewood neighborhood of Chicago; a 14-home Village (opened in 2014) in the Roosevelt Square Community of Chicago, as well as Casa Tepeyac (acquired in 2011), a facility that offers preventative and in-home services in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago.
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois celebrates a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to a national average of 50% for children in foster care. In November 2015, Chicago Magazine named SOS Children’s Villages Illinois one of the “Best Charities in Chicago.” For more information on SOS Children’s Villages Illinois visit: sosillinois.org
About Swissôtel Chicago
Designed by renowned Chicago architect Harry Weese, Swissôtel Chicago is an award-winning luxury hotel overlooking the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, and just steps from the Magnificent Mile. The distinctive all-glass four-diamond hotel offers spectacular wrap-around views from Navy Pier to Millennium Park, 661 guest rooms and suites, five premier ballrooms, and spotless European-style service. For additional information, visit swissotel.com/chicago.
AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,100 hotels, resorts and residences, as well as in over 3,000 of the finest private homes around the globe. Benefiting from dual expertise as an investor and operator through its HotelServices and HotelInvest divisions, AccorHotels operates in 95 countries. Its portfolio comprises internationally acclaimed luxury brands including Raffles, Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel, Sofitel, Fairmont, onefinestay, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman, and Swissôtel; as well as the popular midscale and boutique brands of 25hours, Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter and Adagio; the much-prized economy brands including JO&JOE, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget and the regional brands Grand Mercure, The Sebel and hotelF1. AccorHotels provides innovative end-to-end services across the entire traveler experience, notably through the recent acquisition of John Paul, world leader in concierge services.
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