Social responsibility is important to us and we drive corporate social responsibility among our clients. In early November, we partnered with Caesars Entertainment and Clean The World for the fifth consecutive year to send two members of our housekeeping teams on a service trip to distribute recycled soap and hygiene kits to underserved youth and communities. This year, Cynthia Isrow (EVS Supervisor in Laughlin) and Yerky Santana (Housekeeping Supervisor at a casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip) were selected to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico with Clean The World and Caesars Entertainment’s winners.
Their trip began in Las Vegas, where the group received a tour of Clean The World’s Recycling Operations Center, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, to learn how Clean The World takes, sanitizes and repackages partially used soaps and hotel amenities collected by our associates. In Guadalajara, through Children International, Cynthia, Yerky and the trip participants spent three days distributing soap to impoverished families and taught them how to properly wash their hands to prevent disease.
Now that they have returned from their trip, we took some time to speak with Cynthia and Yerky about the trip and how it affected them. Read our interview and view the photos from the trip below.
What was your reaction to hearing you were selected to go on the soap distribution trip to Guadalajara?
Cynthia: At first, I was a bit uneasy about traveling to Mexico. But I was very excited to have the opportunity to go.
Yerky: I was excited to go. I lived in Guadalajara for a time, so I know about the city and the living conditions in which many of the people live. I knew that by going with this group, I would be able to make a big impact.
What were your expectations of the trip when you were selected? How were they the same as or different than what you experienced?
Cynthia: I expected that we were just there to hand out soap, but it turned out to be so much more than that. We spent time with the families and children we were helping along with Children International. It was a very rewarding experience.
Yerky: The trip ended up being more impactful than I expected it to be. For me, I left Guadalajara thinking more about how other people live and the opportunities available to them. Before, I was more concerned about my life; now not so much.
What advice or information can you give our associates participating in the Clean The World initiative on property?
Cynthia: Keep doing it. Collecting the soap is so important. To us, it might just be soap, but to others, it’s life. I am vocal about how important this is on property.
Yerky: People may not think about how much they can help others by collecting the partially used soaps left behind by guests. On the trip, I saw that one bar of soap has a big impact on these communities. One bar of soap for us is not a big deal, but for the people in Guadalajara, it’s life changing. I would encourage everyone to collect as much soap as possible.
It is amazing to hear that one bar of soap, which may be something we take for granted, has such a significant affect on a family or community. Has this trip impacted you in any way?
Cynthia: It has impacted me in so many ways. Other than wanting to be more involved with my team, I am looking at sponsoring a child in Guadalajara through Children International. Hopefully by January, it will be all set up. When I was in Guadalajara, I saw how the programs Children International provides these families are so effective and I want to give one child the opportunity to have his or her education, medical bills and more covered. I left Mexico believing that one person can change one life.
Yerky: When we’re cleaning guest rooms, we don’t think about how the soap or toilet paper we collect is important. I left driven to do more to help people less fortunate. I’m just one person, and even though I can make a difference, this trip made me realize the great potential people with resources have to combat poverty in the world. I made a promise to myself to contribute more, but more people have to get involved.
What was the most memorable part of the trip?
Cynthia: There was a mother that we met that I will never forget. When we were teaching the kids how to properly wash their hands, each would receive a gold star sticker. She also really wanted to learn and she was so excited to get a gold sticker. She was so thankful and grateful to receive the sticker, which is burned in my mind. This trip put my life into perspective and was a mind opening experience. The people we were helping work from 5am to 11pm each day and only make $150 per month. They make the most out of what they have, which is an important lesson for us all.
Yerky: For me, there were two very memorable parts to the trip. The first was when we visited a family at home. We showed everyone, from the children to the grandmother, how to wash their hands. Visiting them reminded me that my family and I used to live like this in Cuba. I understood how hard they work just to buy some bread and milk. It put my life into perspective. The second memorable experience for me was the visit to the Clean The World Recycling Factory in Las Vegas, where we saw how the soaps we collect are sanitized and repackaged into new soap.
Are there any other memorable moments from the trip you’d like to share?
Cynthia: There was a moment with Yerky interacting with a child during a home visit that I think was memorable for all of us. Yerky asked the boy how many times he could jump on one foot in a minute. The boy responded with 50 times. Yerky stopped the boy after 30 seconds of jumping and told him that he jumped 78 times in half the time. Yerky told the boy to never underestimate himself and to always realize what he is capable of. Yerky shared that he was poor, just like the boy, growing up in Cuba and being told the limits to what he could do in life. Yerky continued that now he lives in the United Sates working on the Las Vegas strip, has traveled to 48 countries and accomplishing what he sets his heart to.
What an incredible story. Cynthia, how has your team in Laughlin been so successful in collecting unused amenities that are donated to Clean The World?
Cynthia: Through constant encouragement. I think now that I can share my experience with them, they will begin to realize the value of what we do and we will be even more successful.
Both of you have mentioned that now that you’ve returned, you want to do more. Can you elaborate on that?
Cynthia: I’ve already started looking at hosting community hygiene kit builds and getting more involved with Clean The World here in Nevada.
Yerky: I’d like to start volunteering, even if it’s just one day a week. I know I can make a difference, no matter how small the task.