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Marriott’s Jeff Wolff Visits the Dominican Republic

Jeff Wolff has seen a lot of poverty in his extensive travels throughout the Caribbean and Latin American regions. However, his recent soap distribution trip to the Dominican Republic with Clean the World revealed just how challenging daily life is for so many people.

“It is very different to view poverty from afar and then actually see it up close,” said Wolff, who is Marriott’s vice president of Guest Experience and Rooms Operations – Americas. “While the living conditions surprised me, I was pleasantly surprised by the impact that Children International [the in-country partner for this trip] appears to be having. It is very positive that Clean the World maximizes its effectiveness by working with organizations that are already established in specific countries.”

Wolff said he was overwhelmed by the smiles and hugs the Clean the World team received from so many people. Children and parents appreciated the simple gift of soap, which most of us take for granted.

When he had the opportunity to visit a neighborhood and see where some of those families live, Wolff was struck by their ability to survive and stay positive despite many economic challenges. He saw firsthand why soap recycling makes sense beyond keeping waste out of landfills.

“The process Clean the World has in place is able to get this product to the people who need it the most.”


Focused on the Story of How Soap Saves Lives

Robert Bahret got more than a typical “Happy New Year” when Clean the World CEO Shawn Seipler called him at the beginning of 2012. That call launched Bahret on a new career path – and landed him in a new state just a few days later.

“Shawn wanted me to run the facility in Las Vegas and help move it to a new location,” Bahret said. “There were some issues with the original crew in that shop and things weren’t going well.”
It was like a homecoming for Bahret, who was part of the original crew that launched Clean the World in 2009. His primary responsibility early on was shooting video to document the growth of this new social enterprise. But with a small group of about eight people, it was all hands on deck for everything from operations to partner relations. So along with everyone else, Bahret learned about soap recycling from the ground up.
He left for about a year to pursue another opportunity, but was eager to come back when the organization needed him. His official return date was Jan. 6, 2012, and on Jan. 13 he arrived in Las Vegas with Kevin Williams, who relocated from the Orlando operations center.
The new two-man Vegas crew jumped right in to ensure our partners were receiving the level of customer service they expect from Clean the World. They found a new, larger facility and coordinated the move. Then they settled into a regular routine with Bahret running the shop while Williams drove the collection routes.
As more properties came on board, Bahret hit the road to help with collecting soap and bottled amenities. And when they a little extra time on their hands, the two transplants sorted bottled amenities that could be sent back to Orlando and included in ONE Project hygiene kits.
Things settled down a bit after Shae Hagen joined the Las Vegas team as volunteer coordinator. By August, Bahret was back in Orlando. A stint in the Operations department gave him a chance to get familiar with all the machines on the production line.
From there Bahret transitioned to the Digital Media department and provided support for Clean the World’s many video production projects. It marked a return to the work that fits in with his original 2009 goal, which is to help create a Clean the World documentary.
It’s a long-term goal. And that’s a good thing because Oscar Gonzalez from Customer Service recently tagged Bahret and asked him to come over and help out on his team.
“Oscar’s department was down one person. I figured that was the last piece of the puzzle for my complete Clean the World orientation, because I’ve pretty much done everything else: logistics, media, operations – and now customer service.”
But the documentary is something Bahret always thinks about.
“The potential is there to do something great. It’s such a great story. I imagine it being featured on the History Channel or National Geographic. Slowly but surely we’re getting there.”

Super Jabon visits the Dominican Republic!

This post is from Rosanna Kingston, Clean the World’s Nonprofit Partnership and Volunteer Coordinator.

Our recent Clean the World soap distribution trip to the Dominican Republic departed from Orlando on Tuesday, April 23.

The team was made up of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, his assistant Kathleen Devault, Clean the World board member Paul Skomsky, Clean the World CEO Shawn Seipler, Jennifer Quigley, Ford Kiene of City Beverages, Rian Seipler, Clean the World videographer Robert Bahret, Sherry Bellomo, and Jeff Wolff, Marriott’s vice president of Guest Experience and Rooms Operations – Americas, and me.

After a two-hour flight to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, we retrieved our luggage and cleared customs. Our in-country partners from Children International greeted us. Their mission is to bring real and lasting change to the lives of children living in poverty. The organization has distributed more than a million recycled bars of soap since 2011.

We all boarded one bus and headed to our first distribution center – La Caleta. We were welcomed with a marching band and young girls twirling batons. After the performance we walked to the building where approximately 400 people waited for soap in two areas.

Our team performed a short skit involving a super hero who fights germs. The Mayor Dyer played the role as “Super Jabon” (Super Soap) and fought the germs played by Shawn, Rian, and Paul. I explained proper hand-washing techniques and taught the children our song about hand washing to the tune of “La Bamba.”

The sound of children’s laughter filled the air! The skit is implemented as part of our presentation throughout all the sites where we distribute soap, and all the team members took turns being Super Jabon. We met director leaders and parent volunteers. Before leaving we toured the facilities and hand-delivered 400 bags containing 2,000 bars of soap.

On Wednesday after breakfast we boarded the bus and headed to Cienfuegos, which is two hours away in Santiago. Cienfuegos is the poorest neighborhood in the northern region of the Dominican Republic. Thousands of children work in the dump trying to survive. They are left without a state to protect them, many without families able to provide for their needs.

We were welcomed at the Cien Fuegos Center with a three-piece band playing the local music, “Merengue.” Our team members were invited to dance with the staff. Everyone had a great time. Our team performed the skit and we delivered 300 bags containing 1,200 bars of soap. Our team toured the facility and was invited to listen to an ESOL class. Each student introduced himself or herself in English. They all thanked us for our visit.

After our visit in Cien Fuegos we headed to a restaurant where we enjoyed a nice lunch. After lunch we boarded our bus and drove to a modern, airy community center called “El Flumen.” It is generally packed with families who up receive sponsorship benefits, receive medical or dental care, or attend a workshop. After we performed our skit to four separate groups and distributed 2,500 soap bars, our team had a quick visit with the staff and a tour of the facilities. A student from the ESOL class sang a solo in English. She was so proud to perform for the team.

On Thursday morning after breakfast, we once again boarded the bus and drove to our first site of the day where children and parents gathered to welcome us at the Children International Tres Brazos. We met with the staff, had a tour of the facilities, and then distributed 1,600 bars of soap. The center director helped us with our song. He joined in and even added a few dance steps that we integrated into the rest of the distributions.

Our next stop was the barrio where the children lived. We visited the homes of two children sponsored by Children International. It was a 30-minute drive from the center. The bus driver navigated through tight streets and down the hill until we were near the Ozma river. The water was very dirty. The river is one of the most polluted in the country. Our team got to see the living conditions of the residents. Each home was built with several tin sheets nailed to wooden posts over a dirt floor.

Once we finished our visit to the barrio, we headed to the Mall for lunch. After lunch we boarded the bus and visited another center named “Mendoza”. We were welcomed at the Mendoza Center by the staff and parent volunteers. Our team performed the skit to five different groups and delivered 600 bags with 3,000 bars of soap. A tasty coconut drink followed our tour of the facility.

We returned to our hotel to freshen up for a casual dinner in the Colonial area of Santo Domingo.

On Friday morning following breakfast, we boarded our bus for Zona Colonial, or “Colonial Zone.” It is a tiny metropolis situated in the city of Santo Domingo. Ciudad Colonial (Spanish for “Colonial City”) is the historic central neighborhood of Santo Domingo and the oldest permanent European settlement in the New World. The beautiful streets of this ancient are lined with a plethora of historical buildings, shops, museums, and churches. UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site.

One thing that I have noticed with each distribution trip is how well the children respond well to our Super Jabon character and song. The parents listen and repeat to themselves the importance of hand washing. It reassures us that our message is getting through and that these trips are worthwhile.

Please visit the photo album for more pictures from this trip.


Greystone Joins the Global Hygiene Revolution

Greystone Hotels is Clean the World’s newest management company partner in the western region. This is an exciting affiliation for Clean the World because of Greystone’s commitment to environmentally friendly hospitality management. The company’s boutique hotels and inns follow eco-friendly business practices and an environmental leadership program to create awareness at the property-level.

In addition to adopting earth-friendly purchasing, landscaping and water conservation practices, Greystone now recycles soap and bottled amenities through Clean the World. The following Greystone properties currently participate in our Hospitality Partner Program:
     · Hotel Griffon
     · The Bristol Hotel San Diego
     · TownPlace Suites Bend
     · Creekside Inn Palo Alto
     · King George Hotel
     · Inn at Union Square
     · Elan Hotel
     · Fairfield Inn & Suites Bend Downtown
     · Empress Hotel

The California Green Lodging Association rewarded Greystone’s practices in 2009 by certifying seven of the company’s California properties for sustainability efforts.

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