Serving others in a time of need
Although events and travel have sharply ended in response to COVID-19, and the hospitality industry has been greatly impacted, caring for others is ongoing for the small team that is currently working on-site at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center.
The main focus of their attention at this time is providing medical professionals from the nearby Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with a safe and secure place to retire to when they’re not working.
“Our goal is to provide as comfortable a stay as we can, as well as a restful place for sleep and relaxing between their long shifts working on the front lines,” said Joseph Russo, the conference center’s director of rooms, adding that senior leaders at the conference center have been working closely with directors at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to ensure safety.
Russo said he and the entire LCC team feel honored to be serving these individuals, and several guests shared how “wonderfully amazing” it is that the LCC has stayed open to help in the time of crisis.
“I think many of us have been humbled by this experience, especially when we go home at night and see the impact this virus has had throughout the world. Although uncertain about what lies ahead in the next few months, we are focused on what we can do in the here and now to take care of our guests.”
In addition, a rotating contingent of 10 Luskin chefs, along with more than a dozen team members, are helping out as the UCLA catering and banquet teams prepare and deliver 1,200 meals each day for essential workers at UCLA.
“The overall mood is positive and upbeat and the activity levels are highly productive,” said Don Kinch, director of catering operations for UCLA Hospitality. “There is a sense of pride in showing others around campus what UCLA catering does… We are seeing a very proud group of professionals who have come together to provide a high-quality essential service to our campus community.”
Kinch said this has been a great opportunity to connect with UCLA’s essential workers, some of whom haven’t experienced the delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner options that his team provides at UCLA.
“Our current tasks are scaled down, so we are able to take all of our resources and concentrate on providing quality meals with timely service.”
Kinch’s team is ready to ramp up meal production and delivery once it is safe to do so, and bring culinary excitement to guests and visitors attending banquets, meetings and, of course, conferences at UCLA.
“Although the conference and convention industry has been temporarily set back, we look forward to welcoming back some of our regular groups this fall,” he said. “The recovery will most certainly be slow, but we are confident that when our customers are ready to get back to some sort of normalcy, they will look to us to fill their needs.”