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Archive for the ‘Hospitality Round the Globe’ Category

Welcome to Palmer’s Hotel for Children!

The Palmers lived in a 20-plus room, white-framed house at the edge of Valparaiso, Indiana. Its three-story structure stood at the top of a long, hilly lane surrounded by tall, sturdy shade trees. (Perfect for climbing, by the way.) At least three dormers rose from both the front and back sides of the roof.

 

Seven days a week, the place became “Palmer’s Hotel for Children.” And, it served as a fun and safe place to “visit” for young people between 3 months and 13 years of age.

 

The “Palmer’s Hotel” had every amenity that a child could possibly wish for:

 

  1. Huge, grassy back yard with lots of room to roam.
  2. Dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, goat, lamb, ponies.
  3. Swing sets and Jungle Jims.
  4. Roomy, enclosed tree house with two sturdy ladders, with deep and generous steps.
  5. Basketball hoops, small softball diamond, badmitten net, crochet sets.
  6. Moveable play house.
  7. Vegetable garden and strawberry patch.
  8. Fruit trees and berry bushes: apple, peach, apricot; blueberry, blackberry, raspberry.
  9. Grape arbor.
  10. Two large plastic wading pools and long garden hose for hot days of summer.
  11. Small wagons, carts, tricycles, 2-wheel bikes.
  12. Two sandboxes.
  13. Games and more games.
  14. Boys and girls toy chests and stuffed animal baskets.

 

Oh, did I mention food? Sandwiches (your choice of filling and bread-spread); veggie sticks, homemade cookies, juices.

 

Of course, “Palmer’s” best amenity was Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. The adopted grandparents that every child would dream up for himself or herself.

 

The biggest treat was staying over night. My sister and I got to do that only four or five times. Usually, while our parents attended a special Saturday evening function, in the community or in Chicago.

What was so great about a sleep-over?

 

Saturday nights were party time at the Palmer’s Hotel for Children.

 

  1. Walt Disney movies, board games, card games, floor games.
  2. Huge bowls of freshly-popped corn setting on every table.
  3. Choices of fruit juices and Kool Aid flavors.
  4. Home-made Kool-Aid Popsicles.
  5. Ice cream and cake or cookies to celebrate a child guest’s birthday.
  6. Cozy-like, dorm-style sleeping space – including a doll or teddy bear if you needed one.
  7. Pals – other guests – to play with.
  8. Lots of arts and crafts supplies to make things to take home.

 

One Saturday afternoon, Mr. Palmer wanted to talk with my dad when he dropped off my sister and me. Mr. Palmer asked Dad to come by at a later date, and give him an estimate on painting the exterior of that huge house.

 

My dad offered to volunteer a paint crew to do the job. The terms: Mr. Palmer would purchase the main paint supplies. And, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer would feed the crew some lunch on paint day.

 

The date was scheduled. I got to go along and “carry water” to the men. We all ate lunch at the picnic tables where we children ate our snacks when we were “visiting.”

 

Silently, I promised that, once I could drive, I’d go by The Palmer’s Hotel and volunteer to help out with their young guests. (I did several times.)

 

Silently, I promised that, when grown up, I’d go by and volunteer my adult skills to help out once in a while. (I did once.)

 

Eventually, I entered the IBPAT apprenticeship program, and began my painting career. I promised that I’d go by and volunteer my painting skills and crew to repaint the Palmer’s Hotel for Children.

 

It was that great of a place. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer were that great of a couple. Final Note: By the time I started painting for a contractor, Mr. and Mrs. Palmer had closed down their hotel for children. And, they had retired.

 

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All grown up now? Who can you help that enriched your life as a child?

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob” today.
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painting It: While Trump and Clinton Talked about Eradicating Gang High-Crime Rates in Chicago…

I shared this true story with Celebrating Chicago Cubs Friends…

 

Friday Morning, Northwest Chicago – My mother was trying to convince an inventor client on the image benefits to his business in getting the exterior of his shop painted. The building looked like an abandoned barn in the middle of another bankrupted farm’s field.

 

Mom and Jerry stood at the open overhead doorway of his loading dock. It faced the alley. Walking in that alley were eight or nine members of a notorious gang. They wore black leather jackets with a dragon emblem on the back, tight blue jeans, knee-high black leather boots with noisy cleats, also bandanas and black leather caps.

 

To Mom’s surprise, her client called the group over as they passed the loading dock. He offered them the job of painting the barn-like, two-story building. Bigger surprise: They took him up on the offer.

 

Promptly, Jerry jotted down a list of the materials and supplies they’d need. He handed the leader 2-one-hundred dollar bills. And, he sent them to the nearest paint store, located three blocks west on West Grand Boulevard. He offered them his car keys to bring everything back; but they refused.

 

TWO FRIDAYS LATER…

 

My mother had an appointment to deliver the draft of a project contract proposal to Jerry. She pulled her auto up to the curb in front of his property. As she walked past the side of the house, toward the job, his wife darted out of the back door.

 

“What do you think?” She smiled. “They did a terrific job, even on the carved trim around the dormers and porches. This house hasn’t looked this good since it was built in the 1950s…”

 

Come to find out: The infamous gang had painted the exteriors of both the large, 2-story house, and the shop. And, they looked superb!

 

MOTHER’S BIGGEST SURPRISE…

 

Upstairs, in Jerry’s shop, worked nine black leather jacketed young-young adults. Members of a different notorious Chicago gang, associated with the Hells Angels. (Remember hearing about them?)

 

The group was busy packing shipping boxes with plastic-wrapped, soft-fabric insulated hot/cold tote bags for foods and beverages. Jerry’s inventions in the 1970s. Note: Most of the prototypes were stolen away, initially, by a woman to whom he’d given a job to help her get back on her feet. Talk about crime!

 

Anyway, Jerry had given temporary jobs to the “teen hoods. “ The scourge of society. “The no good hoods.” They’d been on the job three previous days that week, putting in seven hours. Free pizza lunches and two “junk food” breaks included each day.

 

That scene in his shop was not a new one. The man was just as well known for his giving jobs to notorious gang members, as they were for robbing, stealing and threatening every other business place in the area.

 

Frankly, both Trump’s and Clinton’s camps could have learned a lot from people like Jerry, about eradicating major gangland crime in big cities like Chicago.

 

Gutsy people that put themselves out there. Inventive people who offer doable alternatives, not ineffective and stupid threats to well-connected gang members.

 

Before the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians game on November 2,  2016, I was watching “campaign clips” for both Trump and Clinton.

 

“Bob,” my mother commented, “high gangland crime in cities gets derailed by people like Jerry. Not by politicians, laws and the courts.”

 

I agreed. An image of a black leather jacketed gang member in Osceola County, Florida, flashed in and out of my brain. We “met” when I spotted him making a drug sale directly outside the men’s restroom inside the local public library. He still completed the sale, then casually walked upstairs and sat in front of a public computer.

 

People on the front lines – on the streets – almost always know the better solutions to problems that politicians tend to talk a lot about. During presidential campaigns especially. Why is that?

 

Are we paying the wrong people to eradicate high level, gangland crime?

 

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob” – especially as we head into a new, and unprecedented, leadership and constituency relationship!
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Indy Inn Surveys Millennial Guests

An old Purdue friend attended a small wedding at a Marriott Beach Resort on St. Thomas. Scott was the general manager of an Indianapolis-area inn, owned by his family. He decided to sell his relatives on the benefits of marketing to millennial-age independent professionals.

 

At the wedding, he met some younger friends of the bride and groom. All shared these traits:

 
1. They were between 20 and 34.

2. They were employed by other people.

3. Also, they were involved in group entrepreneurial start-ups.

4. They stayed employed, while launching their new two-three person businesses.

 

“These people travel for their employers, on established business expense accounts,” Scott told me. “Then, for entrepreneurial things, they travel on personal, or new and separate, small business expense accounts.” Low budget, limited credit card, multitasking electronics.

 

“In the Indianapolis area, we get a lot of them. Where can they stay?” he asked. “They need to be near the city’s hub of transportation connections, business networks, popular eateries, and financial resources. They need places to stay, with amenities that combine technology, work, social networking, comfort, and healthy eating. They need affordable room and service rates.”

 

Scott has two millennial-age sons. At the inn’s annual July 4 party in 2016, he “surveyed” the guests and visitors, also his younger relatives. Here’s a sampling of that survey.

 

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Intro: You are a millennial between ages 20 and 34. You travel for your employer at least once a month. Also, you are starting a group business. You travel for that one or two times a month.

 
1. What amenities do you need available when you stay here? Be specific, please.

2. What connectivity resources are a necessity when you stay here? Be specific.

3. What foods, snacks and beverages do you need and/or want available when you stay here?

4. What special services are a necessity at no extra cost, when you stay here? Be specific.

5. What is your inclusive budget limit for staying two nights, on employer’s expense account?

6. What is your inclusive budget limit for staying two nights, on your own or group business account?

7. What color schemes do you prefer in your guest room? Public areas? Eating/snacking/pub areas?

8. What things don’t you want present, whenever you stay overnight here?

 

It took Scott over six months to report back to everyone on his “Boilermaker” list. He called the survey responses “mixed.”  He called the responders “decisive” overall, “wishy-washy” when their answers were compared to their actual requests and uses while visiting the Inn.

 

“I’m still trying to figure this out,” he e-mailed us. “And my own sons and their wives, all millennials, gave different responses on that survey every time they completed it.”

 

So what happened to marketing to the millennial entrepreneurial professionals that stay at the Inn?

 

“We give them the services they need when they’re here,” explained Scott. “Even when it requires us to scramble to outfit their space in time for check-in…. So far, our off-season bookings are up 26 percent….Not bad!”

 

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Market to the people that  you and your people are cut out to best serve.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

MEET “VICTORIA!”

val2

The main character in

Victoria’s Valentine,

our family’s V-Day tale this year.

 

“Victoria” is really “Delilah.” Age: 5+ years here.

Owner/Rescuer: Darlene Serpa, Serpentine Saint Bernards,

Saint Bernard Rescue Foundation, Clearlake, California.

Source: Darlene serpatierra@mchsi.com.

Painter’s View: Pro Linebacker on Property

A True Hotel New Year’s Tale…

 

I would have recognized the former Chicago Bears linebacker anywhere. Even sitting at the bottom of the playground’s purple slide.

 

Nearby, two children – identical in size and features – played on the monkey bars.

 

Suddenly, the retired football player jumped up, sprinted toward the young boys, and grabbed them under his massive arms.  “Let’s go find your grandmother,” he cheered. And off they went.

 

I didn’t see the highly-respected athlete again. But a teammate in engineering sure did. And, he set out to get an autograph from the man.

 

“He give much (to) sick children in Mexico City after earthquakes,” my coworker said. “Years ago. He still help. Hospital. Orphanage.”

 

“Really?” Sorry to say, I knew little about the pro player’s life since he took off that helmet and famous jersey.

 

The former Chicago Bears record holder wasn’t the only good man around the hotel that Christmas holiday season.

 

Later that afternoon, I spotted Carlos (not real name) handing two-twenty dollar bills to a fellow engineering tech. Earlier, everyone in the department had chipped in to help Rory (not real name) buy a new car battery, so he could drive off the hotel property at the end of his shift. The collection had come up short.

 

Carlos was not loaded with money. He had a large family to feed. Probably, he needed that forty dollars for their Christmas.

 

Later that day, near quitting time, I wandered into the kitchen. The cook was getting ready to discard food, left over from a banquet in the conference center.

 

“Lots of good food, just going to waste,” he said shaking his head. “We always prepare extra. There’s enough here to feed a small army.”

 

“Or two large families,” I grinned.

 

Immediately, an image popped into my brain. “I know two staff members’ families that could really use this food. Do you have any doggie boxes?”

 

The cook stepped over to a cupboard and pulled out a stack of Styrofoam carriers. “I’ll dish up. You close and put into two groups. One for each guy.”

 

We hurried. The wall clock said ten after four. “We’ll just make it.” I punched my mobile. “Carlos, find Rory and both of you come to the kitchen. Pronto.”

 

“What’s up, Bob?”

 

“You’ll see.” I got back to work helping to box up the leftover food. There was ham, potato fries, dressing, sweet potato boats, green beans, carrots, and chocolate cake squares, with red and green (butter) icing. .

 

The doors to the kitchen flew open, and both Carlos and Rory burst in. “What’s up, Bob?”

 

“These!” exclaimed the cook. “For you. Your families.”

 

“WHAT?!?”  Neither man got it.

 

“I hope that you got that new battery put in your car, Rory.” I thought: ‘cause you’re going to need to get this food home pronto.

 

Then, the engineering teammates did get it.

 

Excitedly, the cook and I bagged all of the filled boxes. Handing three large bags to each man.

 

Before Carlos and Rory left, all four of us were sworn to secrecy. But, something told me that even the G.M. would have given his “OK.” Especially, if he’d known each tech’s situation.

 

Interestingly, when I started at the hotel, both Carlos and Rory had been among the group of teammates that ate lunch together, and spoke only Spanish. I’d felt left out… a newcomer to the “hotel family.”

 

Isn’t it funny how time, experience and real teamwork brings people together? I’ll bet that’s something that the former Bears linebacker could have taught us a lot about!

 

FINAL NOTE: Many thanks to all hotel and facility team members that look out for their peers.

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Noticing and filling a teammate’s need doesn’t take much time, just an open soul.

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Many thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: “Mrs. J,” Homeless Hotel Resident

Mrs. “J” lived on the second floor of Building 300-400. That is, toward the back of the hotel property.

 

She and her three young children had been there for nearly a year. Victims of an abusive husband/father and home foreclosure, they owned what had fitted into three suitcases. And, they had nowhere else to go.

 

Sooner than later, the woman’s money started to run out. She had extreme difficulties paying the rent on the guest room. More frequently, her children were seen foraging for food left in trash bins setting throughout the property. The middle child even took to sneaking into the Food Court, and asking the cook for uneaten food.

 

Our G.M. took a “Samaritan” approach to Mrs. “J” and her children. He did the same for the more than ten other families that had nowhere else to go.

 

Among other things, he made certain that the families – especially the children – had a Christmas. Holiday food, warmer clothing and new shoes, even gifts. And, he discreetly invited the staff to help out, too.

 

On Christmas Eve morning, I started my shift early. At 7:00 A.M. Mrs. “J” stood at the corner of her building, closest to my usual parking spot. She approached me slowly.

 

She looked down at my name badge. “Robert, I’ve been waiting for you.” Her eyes looked sunken.  There were fresh bruises on the left side of her face and neck, also her left arm and both hands.

 

“Mrs. ‘J,’ what happened to you?” The woman wobbled, trying not to fall against my truck.

 

“I’m okay now. He…uh…He left.”

 

“He…Who left? Your husband was here? He found you?” A sick sensation hit my stomach.

 

“Yes. But he’s all gone now…Won’t be back.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Because I have no money to give him.”

 

No money? I thought. The woman was on her own. She was struggling to keep a roof over her children’s heads, and food in their stomachs.

 

I did not ask her. I just pushed the button on my mobile, and asked for “Security.”

 

Mrs. “J” and her children needed a little extra help. I wondered: How many other temporary hotel residents here needed this type of extra help?

 

That Christmas season marked a new, trumped up security plan for our special guests. One that carried over into the following year. It was a plan that no one on the staff really talked about. Yet, everyone on the staff knew about, and discreetly helped, to carry it out.

 

In previous years, I’ve posted about homelessness in America, and homelessness in Central Florida. I’ve posted about our Santa/G.M’s humanitarian  heart, and the kind hearts of his elves/staff.

 

It may be six years after Mrs. “J’s” Christmas attack. It may be close to three years, since I posted the first piece about hotel homeless residents/guests.

 

Let me reassure you: Christmas of 2016: Many destitute individuals and families call hotel rooms their homes.

 

A Painter’s Plan…

 

Are you, or will you be, staying at a hotel, resort or lodge this holiday season?

 

  1. Please keep your eyes and ears open for guests that need some help.
  2. Let the first staff member you see that you’ve noticed that another guest – especially any child – is struggling.
  3. Notify Security promptly if any guest or family appears to be in a crisis mode.
  4. Do not approach the needy guest yourself. Do not reach out to help.

 

You will be doing enough – the right thing – by contacting the hotel staff.

 

At Christmas time, “persons with special needs” go far beyond the traditional definition of “special needs.” It encompasses anyone – of any age – that needs help from someone else. To survive!

 

A message to the rest of us: Eyes open. Ears alert. Heads up. Heart open. Enough to recognize that another person needs help. And enough to call for help!

 

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Painters and decorators: Thank you for brightening and freshening up the world of others.

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And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: The Finer Essence: A View of Fathers

The Finer Essence is part of the title of a 32-page booklet, written and published by my mother for her cousins and children, my sister, and I.  It’s a collection of biographical stories about some of the fathers in our family. (Including my father, grandfathers, great uncles, great-grandfathers, etc.)

 

Originally, the plan called for the soft cover publication to be ready for distribution near Father’s Day of 2008.

 

However, the publication date got moved back when I suffered my first adverse reaction to exposure to very high levels of major myotoxins. Specifically, black mold infestation.

 

Eight years, and a lot more genealogical research, later the illustrated, full-color book – expanded to 40 pages – rolled off the press. Well, out of the printer.

 

Last week-end (four days ago), its pages got collated into sets, flat stapled, and folded. Then inserted into white 10 x 13 envelopes. And, as I write this post, they’re being weighed, meter posted, and mailed at the nearest U. S. Postal Service counter.

 

The books will not arrive (except my copy) in time for Christmas. Close enough, though.

 

It’s one of those gifts – about ancestry – that can keep on giving. Every time someone opens the book’s front cover.

 

What kind of gift can you give that will keep on giving? For generations, perhaps?

 

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Best wishes for a safe, healthy and joy-filled holiday season.

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Many thanks to everyone for visiting “Painting with Bob” – and for doing what you can to make the work world a better place.

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

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