Like many Baristaville residents, we lost our power the night of Hurricane Sandy. It didn’t return for another nine days. During that time, like others, we scrambled for back-up plans. After spending the first few nights in our powerless home, the temperatures dropped so we high-tailed it for a friend’s apartment in the city.
But we needed to get back to New Jersey, to our home and our things, the kids’ schools and my job. So we checked into the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange.
It was a smart move. The hotel place exceeded our expectations, going out of its way to make sure we were comfortable and taken care of. The staff was attentive and made sure to keep up updated when reservations became available on other nights should our power outage last longer than we hoped.
On Halloween night, with the help of another guest displaced by the storm, the hotel put out treats for the kids, face paint, and art activities. My kids loved it, and they also loved the all-you-can-eat morning buffet, where they could get their own milk, fill their own cereal bowls and toast their own bagels (funny how they don’t do that at home).
The hotel had many displaced residents the week we were there. We met families from North Caldwell, Glen Ridge, West Orange, Maplewood and Montclair. All were frustrated at their situation, but many also seemed relieved to be at the Wilshire Grand, where it was warm and where the children–many of them–could hang out in the lobby and watch TV. The staff never seemed to mind.
The hotel has done more than just help my family after Hurricane Sandy. It is also helping many others, by accepting room and product donations and offering to match those donations. Already, though its blog and social media pages, the Wilshire Grand has received money donations, Starbucks gift cards, toiletries and non-perishable goods.
“I remain no less than amazed at the resilience and empathy of our brothers and sisters nationwide to help take care of our own,” General Manager Ed Reagoso wrote on the company’s blog on Nov. 5. “I will continue to assist our displaced neighbors and friends. I won’t whine because I have no power at home yet. I will simply be grateful and feel blessed that I live in such a great country…”
The Wilshire Grand Hotel recently housed eight families who lost their homes to Hurricane Sandy (a few families still remain) and continues to work on its relief efforts for those families still without power. To donate, call the hotel at 973-731-7007, or you can send packages to: ATTN: Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts, The Wilshire Grand Hotel, 350 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange, NJ 07052.