Extending Hospitality

A hotelier helps a major chain build a better world.

Best Western World Vision

(Greg Schneider/Genesis Photos)

Walk into a Best Western hotel today, and you will likely find a framed picture of a sponsored child in the lobby. The idea came from Mina Dahya, 51, part-owner of 10 hotels in the Los Angeles area, six of them in the Best Western chain.

Although today a successful hotelier, Mina says influences in early life connect her to the plight of the poor. Born into an Indian family, Mina grew up in Zambia, where poverty was never far away. When she moved to the United States, she married a Fijian Indian, Dinu, who as a 16-year-old immigrant struggled alone to survive while studying to become an engineer.

Most of all, Mina remembers her mother, who told her: “Love unconditionally every human being, as they are children of God.”

So Mina thought there was no better way to support the “Best Western for a Better World” campaign that by having hotels sponsor children through World Vision. She sponsors 15 children, including two for each of her Best Western hotels.

After praying, Mina bravely pitched the idea at the company’s annual convention before more than 3,000 hotel owners. “If we care so much about our guests and their needs, and we are in the hospitality industry, could we not be hospitable to the needy children of the world?” she asked the audience.

The response was enthusiastic. Best Western adopted World Vision as its charity of choice, and now, nearly 500 children are sponsored by hotels in the U.S and Canada. The chain also supports the organization’s work through its Best Western Rewards program. When the Haiti earthquake struck, Best Western rallied its Reward program members to donate points to World Vision’s relief efforts, raising nearly $100,000. Hotel owners and corporate staff donated another $50,000.

Best Western is the largest hotel chain in the world, with more than 4,000 properties in 80 countries. Mina hopes that as her idea spreads internationally, hundreds more children will be sponsored. “Caring is missing in this world, and we need to increase it,” she says.

Learn about World Vision’s partnership with Best Western at www.worldvision.org/BestWesternCares.

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