On a rainy May evening, Executive Chef Ruffy Sulaiman and his Hilton Americas-Houston team made the final rounds of a warehouse space they had transformed into a fine dining venue. The team examined the space, making sure that the food was prepared and the tables were elegantly dressed, ahead of a highly anticipated surprise they had in store for a group of deserving volunteers from disaster relief organization Team Rubicon.
As a part of a global grassroots service initiative called Random Acts of Hospitality, which focuses on extending hospitality beyond the walls of Hilton hotels, Hilton Americas-Houston chose to surprise Team Rubicon volunteers, who are giving of themselves in order to restore a community.
To date, hundreds of properties and thousands of Hilton Team Members across the globe have delivered creative, heartfelt surprises that have touched their local communities in unique ways.
The Team Rubicon volunteers, many of whom are veterans, did not expect anything in return for their hard work – but were truly deserving of such a grand gesture of appreciation. After a long day of rebuilding homes that were lost as a result of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, more than 40 Team Rubicon volunteers headed back to their home base nicknamed “The Warehouse,” when they were surprised with an unexpected sight.
As the volunteers entered, the disbelief quickly turned to happiness and hugs of gratitude. The usual dining space had been transformed for the evening with tables covered in linen tablecloths and adorned with flowers, alongside a three-course meal Chef Ruffy and his team had assembled.
For Chef Ruffy, the experience was one he will always cherish.
“For these volunteers to leave their families behind and come to Houston to support our community, it’s a big deal. You could see in their eyes some of them were tearing up because they didn’t expect to be thanked by anyone,” Ruffy said.
Over the course of the evening, he had a chance to sit down with volunteers and hear their enriching stories about what inspired them to volunteer. Seeing how much joy this gesture brought to the group of volunteers, Chef Ruffy walked away feeling both fulfilled and more motivated than ever to continue giving back to his community, both personally and professionally.
Beyond Hilton Americas-Houston, Team Members throughout Hilton locations around the world are conducting meaningful, simple gestures for others that extend Hilton’s hospitality beyond the doors of its hotels and into local communities.
In another example of the impact of paying it forward, Palmer House, A Hilton Hotel delighted EMS responders, firefighters and the Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Richard C. Ford II with delicious brownies – made from the same recipe which originated at Palmer House in 1893.
The Chicago Fire Department has always held a special place in the hearts of those who work at Palmer House Hilton, as the original building of the hotel was lost to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Through the delivery of this sweet treat, Hilton Team Members had a chance to thank their local first responders and firefighters for their ongoing commitment to keeping the community safe.
Upon hearing Palmer House Hilton partnered with a local non-profit to help host Camp Kids are Kids – an indoor summer camp for kids living with cancer, Commissioner Ford offered the Chicago Fire Department’s support and involvement as well.
One small act of hospitality has the power to spark a chain reaction. Watch the Random Acts of Hospitality video to get a sense of the power that many small acts can have.