Hammer and Heels: Marriott at Women Build

Few have given as much to NOAHH as our friends at Marriott. Whether it’s a crew of volunteers, helping with outreach to partner families, or even meeting space, they can be depended upon. For Women Build this year, several teams of women from Marriott’s hotels throughout the city showed up to make the first two days of the build a great success. From volunteering, to fundraising, to bringing out lunch with the men of Marriott and Sheraton hotels serving for the day as part of our Pink Tutu Club, they made the first two days of the build a special experience.

“Marriott has always supported Habitat, and we didn’t want to miss the chance to do Women Build,” said Team Leader Jesseca Malecki, who also led the Marriott team last year. “Marriott International is out here. All of our hotels in the greater New Orleans area are here. And we are one big family. We enjoy supporting one another and supporting our fellow ladies.”

A major part of Marriott’s long-time partnership with NOAHH is their efforts to help with outreach to future homebuyers. Over 40% of NOAHH’s partner families are hospitality workers, and both last year and this year, the Women Build families have been women working in the local hospitality industry.

“I think Marriott does a great job in giving back to the local community,” said Pam Vitarno of the New Orleans Marriott. “Both of the [homebuyers] are in the hospitality industry. It means a lot.”

D’Andrea Foy, who works at the Courtyard by Marriott New Orleans French Quarter/Iberville, said, “To see the person that [the house] is going to benefit makes you want to work ten times harder. It makes you feel good that you’re doing something for another woman.”

“It’s fantastic having the homeowners working side by side with the other gals,” said Jesseca. “It shows their dedication to being new homeowners.”

Working alongside dozens of women for the build made it a different experience.

“We feel like we contribute more,” said Pam. “When you have men involved, it feels like they try to takeover. It’s nice to be able to show that we can do just as much.”

“I think this particular one is a great time to meet other strong women in our community and give back,” said Jocelyn Kim of Le Meridien New Orleans. “The energy is awesome. You really feel the support and excitement.”

“I’ve never even hammered a nail before,” said D’Andrea. “I like it. It feels good that other women are doing it all together. This is something you don’t see a lot. I’m glad we’re able to get come together and do something that we’re not likely to usually do. ‘Oh there’s no men!’ And we’re still getting everything done.”

Working with friends and coworkers from the hotels also means the team was close-knit.

“A lot of people from the JW are out here, too, so team work makes the dream work,” said D’Andrea. “Marriott is already family-oriented, so everyone’s getting along and getting the job done.”

“I have a lot of respect for people who do this on the regular. It’s a lot harder than I expected, but it’s worth it. I think it would be a lot harder for me if [Jocelyn] wasn’t here, but it’s fun,” said Ebony Aufrecht of the Courtyard. “There’s people from the other hotels out. It feels like family.”

Many of the women on site had bedazzled their hard hats for the day. Pam’s was decked out in a floral design.

“Sunflowers are my favorite flower, so I wanted that to be the center part of my hat,” she said. “I used this one last year, also, but I added to it this year. Next year, just wait. There’s been more to come.”