Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hospitality is Not Wasted on the Young!

You know how they say youth is wasted on the young? Well, I tell you that hospitality is not wasted on the young; it is alive and well! I am so impressed with this new generation of young people who will soon be entering the professional workforce. Just within the last two days, I’ve learned of two amazing examples and I want to share them with you.

When we met in Columbus with our son and one of his friends last weekend, we learned that their group of friends is planning a trip to Chicago soon. I offered to contact a friend’s daughter, who is a junior at the University of Chicago, to see if she could make a recommendation for a nice hotel close to downtown Chicago. They liked the idea of information from "an insider," and I offered to contact the young lady.

So I emailed Chelsea (whom I have met only once, when she was about 5 years old) and asked if she could suggest a hotel for the guys’ trip next month. Within hours I had a response from Chelsea. Imagine my surprise when I read her return email which had not only the hotel recommendation, but also information about the shuttle service the hotel offers as well as info about public transportation options in the area. And it didn’t stop there. Chelsea gave specifics about walking distance, time needed, costs and a even link for additional information! She also included a link to the hotel she recommended, which also offered a discount, if you can imagine that!

As if that weren’t enough, Chelsea offered her cell phone number and invited my son and his friends to call her with questions about directions or restaurant recommendations. Is that not amazing?! She took the time to give really useful information and all I asked for was a hotel recommendation! Yet, Chelsea thought of everything and truly exceeded my expectations with her amazing hospitality.

I heard a while back that Chelsea was considering law or journalism. I'm not sure the direction she has chosen, but I am very sure she will be successful in whatever career path she selects. I know she would be a HUGE success in the hospitality or traveling industries!

Just prior to my contact with Chelsea, I became aware of our son extending hospitality to a business associate of my husband’s. Matthew learned this gentleman would be at his college for a career fair and emailed him to offer his assistance. Upon learning the man would have no one to help him at the career fair, Matthew offered to help him set up, navigate campus and even meet him for a meal, if he would like. Even though he is pursuing a career path different from the one the man represents, Matthew offered to send some friends and acquaintances in his direction who might be interested in the field. We learned this from the emails they exchanged, which the man forwarded to my husband.

We hear so much about this generation being me, me, me! Frankly, I think we’re being unfair. Many in this generation show incredible character and maturity. If this generation is our future – and let’s face it, they are! – I think we’re in terrific, capable hands.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Brower Bash

Ken with his parents and sibs.
From bottom - up, L to R: Judy, Janet, Ken, Kevin, Keith, Bob and Jane

Pops and Nana with the 9 grandkids who were present. 4 grandkids (one with a spouse!) and 1 great grandchild were not able to attend.

The whole bunch - as Matthew called it, "Browerpalooza!"

The Outer Banks are near to my heart. If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, you know that I’ve written about the Outer Banks before, focusing on how wonderful it was for us to “host” family and friends at a rented beach house. [To read this posting, please go to "Hosting Away from Home," from August 15, 2009.]

I still contend hosting away from home is one of the best ways to entertain, as there is none of the fussing I do to get our own house ready for company!
We have such fond memories of all the times we’ve been to the Outer Banks and I highly recommend the area as a fun place to host a gathering with family or friends. We’ve rented beach houses there a number of times and had wonderful family vacations in various places along the narrow strip of land that spans miles and miles.

One year we took our boys (our son and his close friends from high school) the summer before they started High School. Four 14 year-olds! My cousin Lynn and her late husband, Rickey, along with their two children, joined us at a different time one year for a couple of days. And most recently, we hosted my husband’s extended family. Now that they’ve experienced it, too, our extended family also have an affinity for this wonderful area off the coast of North Carolina!

But, I suppose I am getting a little ahead of myself. To understand why it was such a special reunion with Ken’s family, I need to share a little history….

My husband is one of five kids. None of the five live close to each other. Kenny’s sister, Judy, lives in North Carolina and is close to where his parents live. His other siblings are also scattered far from us and this part of the country; Janet lives in St. Louis, Keith lives in Cincinnati and Kevin lives in Germany. Add grown grandkids to the mix and we dot the map in a much larger areas still.

Because of this ‘scattering’ it had been 14 years since all the siblings had been together. You read that right – 14 years! During that decade and a half, there were various get-togethers, but someone was always missing due to military deployment, pregnancy, illness or work commitments. It just seemed impossible to get everyone together as a family.

So early this summer, when our son, Matthew, learned that Kevin and his family were coming to the States for a visit, he decided we should all try to get the entire family together. Since Matthew was only 6 the last time we had all been together, he had not have the privilege of seeing – as an adult - his dad together with all his brothers and sisters. As an only child, I think he really longed for that connection to family - he wanted to get to know his aunts, uncles and cousins better and that he did!

The first part of the week we enjoyed our time at the beach house with our little family of three. Then on Thursday, the rest of the tribe joined us at the Outer Banks for a weekend Matthew called “Browerpalooza!” There were 20 of us present and it was amazing! A few were unable to attend (again, due to deployment and other things), but at least all the brothers and sisters were together along with their parents. That was the goal!

So, we visited and had an enjoyable 3 days together. We talked and ate and reminisced. Then we swam in the pool and at the beach and cooked and ate some more. It was a wonderful time to get together and a wonderful place to do it. The visit also provided us the opportunity to get to know Kevin’s family, whom we (Ken, Matthew and I) had not met. What a joy it was to meet Patty and their little boy, Ian!

As you know, hospitality is my thing. Imagine my joy to learn that Patty shares my love of entertaining and hospitality! She and Kevin cooked a delicious German meal for us and we ate as a family – a great, big family! As ‘only kids’, Matthew and I loved it! And so did everyone else. It was a real treat and a real blessing to all of us.

So, are we going to do it again? Kevin and Patty, who are moving to Florida later this year, have offered to host the next reunion. We are looking to reconvene in two years in the fall of 2012. I wonder if Disney World and Mickey Mouse are ready for Browerpalooza!