Since its inception, Guest Services has been providing supportive services for government workers and facilities. We were even called Government Services from 1945 through 1982. This impactful relationship evolved into a long-standing partnership with the National Park Service and several State Park Systems across the country. Since the National Park Service is an agency of the federal government, many of Guest Services’ managed-properties, such as Mount Rainier National Park, felt the impact of the 35-day government shutdown that lasted from December 22, 2018, until January 25, 2019. As Guest Services’ team members, we strive to provide legendary hospitality solutions, and the shutdown didn’t stop the Mount Rainier and Grandview Annapolis Towne Centre Condominium Team Members from creating a positive impact on their community and guests during this negative situation.
Grandview Annapolis Towne Centre Condominium is located in Annapolis, Maryland. Guest Services has assisted with the daily operation and administration of the property since 2012. Once the government shut down began, the team called local food pantries to see if they needed any additional support.
“We knew more people would reach out to the food banks as the shutdown started to have no end in sight. When they said they needed more, we immediately sent out a notice to our residents for donations, and the food started to pour in,” says Edward Dunlap, General Manager at the condominium.
In only a few days, they collected about two carloads of non-perishable items like canned soups, sauces, rice, beans, and other boxed foods.
“While none of our residents were directly affected by the shutdown, we felt it was our duty to make sure the families in our area felt supported, and if help was needed, we were offering,” says Edward.
The impact of the shutdown was felt across the nation, including Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. Mount Rainier’s National Park Inn is located in the Longmire Historic District of Mount Rainier National Park. When the government shutdown commenced, they were determined to keep their operations open for their guests and team members.
“During the first shutdown, we chose to donate hours to keep the public restrooms clean and clear the area of trash,” says Melinda Simpson, Operations Manager at Mount Rainier. “We were able to keep our pristine standard through January 10th.”
Along with donating hours of labor to keep the Park clean for visitors, they also had the donated funds go towards the snow plows to keep the Longmire area safe. In a short time, the costs exceeded around $12,000, but there was no government shutdown in sight.
“We had to cut the public off from going beyond the Longmire area to the Paradise Inn due to the inability to keep it maintained. That’s when we knew we had to do something for our community to keep spirits high.”
Mount Rainier’s team decided to take extra food from their holiday celebrations to a local food bank called Eatonville Food Bank as well as add a few extra chairs to their Christmas Buffet.
“We made sure to invite the furloughed National Park Service workers to our Christmas Buffet,” says Brandy Frederich, Mount Rainier’s Managing Director. “They were surprised, and it was a complete success. We needed to recognize our community during this time and say we are in this with you.”
Overall, they donated over $2,400 worth of food. Brandy says, “Our donations kept the area open to the public. Once that stopped, so did the ability to go out in public. We had to respect and honor the highly-restrictive NPS rules. While other government facilities had their workers just go home during the shutdown, we couldn’t. It was interesting being in such a pristine place and not being able to walk around. It truly was a shutdown.”
During the government shutdown, the Mount Rainier team members continued providing the best hospitality service possible, which is why Mount Rainier National Park is one of the top National Parks in the United States.
“Those involved from the acting managers to law enforcement still wanted to represent the Park Service and community well. Positive interactions and smiling faces were abundant, just like it would have been if we were fully opened,” says Brandy.
As Melinda says in her final remarks looking back on the government shut down and how she and her team members got through it: “It was difficult to manage, but overall it was a positive story of how everyone can work together as a team in tough situations.”
Thank you to Mount Rainier and Grandview Annapolis Centre Condominiums for your dedication to committing to Guest Services’ roots of serving our government workers and communities.