Friday, October 11, 2013

Habitat Hotel: What Do Hotel Rooms and Habitat for Humanity Have In Common?

Parents Weekend is a huge event at Washington and Lee (one of our two local universities):  catered lunches, band parties, a picture perfect football game, musical performances etc.

Parents attend classes with the students (yes, that's right) and get a chance to see if their progeny have changed their sheets or figured out how to work the dormitory washing machines since being dropped off earlier in the fall!

One thing that W&L can't manufacture for the weekend is hotel rooms.

Between the influx of visitors to Virginia Horse Center events and the convergence of two interstates here in Lexington, hotels rooms are scarce on almost any weekend.  Add the strain of 1,500 or so parents coming to town and rooms are booked years in advance for this fall weekend.

Another thing in short supply in Rockbridge County is affordable housing.  Some of what's considered affordable is run-down, old and horribly energy inefficient.   So affordable and decent quality housing is difficult to obtain.

Habitat Hotel is a way to solve both the two day housing "crisis" of Parents Weekend AND help with the ongoing housing crisis felt by many in the county.

It's so simple:  Visiting parents are matched with local residents who have agreed to offer rooms in their homes for the weekend.   The parents then make a suggested donation to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in exchange for their rooms for the weekend.   

This year almost 50 homes in our little town served as Habitat Hotels and as a result the local Habitat group made a clear profit of 15K!

Yes, that's right $15,000 for one weekend of "work" ..... with no outlay of capital or advertising costs.

Earlier in the fall, I'd thought that we might have other guests that weekend, so it wasn't until fairly late in the process that I agreed to take part in the "Hotel"

To my surprise and delight, our visiting parents were from the UK! 

Now that's a long way to come to see your son for a weekend!

We had a terrific time hosting Steve and Emma from Bath, England!

Even if Emma hadn't taken up precious room in her luggage 
by bringing me two gorgeous Stoke-on-Trent floral mugs, blueberry curd, and a London tea towel, 
I'd have been anxious to have them back!
I'm not sure how she had room for clothes!!

Sometimes when you're asked to volunteer or help out with a cause, it means a bit of a sacrifice or inconvenience but this was a total pleasure!

Kudos to whatever local genius thought of Habitat Hotel!  We thoroughly enjoyed our little part in it!


  1. Thanks for the plug, Grace . . . going to send this on to the Habitat folks so they can read as well . . . it's hard work raising money for any non-profit . . . nice comments like this are really gratifying . . . and at least as far as we know, we had 50 happy sets of parents and 50 happy local families . . . it is a great thing . . . and thanks for your support and for your comments.

  2. that is the most wonderful idea i've heard of in years. just awesome. and so glad you got to open your gorgeous home to two folks from across the pond! what a wonderful way to make new friends. sort of like hosting 'exchange parents' but only for a weekend. :)

  3. What a great idea! Our B&B is almost ready and we would be willing to do something for HFH. How do we get on the list? Assuming someone wants to drive a bit...

  4. Neat program.... but it's your patio furniture that I am coveting.. Yummo!

  5. Sounds like an excellent program! I am glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Sounds like a great solution and that you had terrific house guests who yiu may someday visit in return, Grace.

  7. Genius idea indeed! It sounds like a win-win situation for everyone involved.


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