Our Commitment to the Gatlinburg Community
Thank you for your continued support of our Gatlinburg team and the surrounding community in the wake of the wildfires. WE are Westgate, and the caring spirit of the Westgate family, including our team members, owners, guests and business partners, continues to shine.
The following is an update on our community efforts:
Westgate is committed to Gatlinburg’s long-term healing and rebuilding. Our team’s ongoing response demonstrates dedication to our Smoky families and those in the many resort communities across the country that we call home.
Providing a home-away-from-home is what Westgate does best! In that spirit, Westgate’s Wild Bear Inn provided temporary lodging for 25 Gatlinburg team members and local families who lost their homes during the wildfires. Since then, each of these families found temporary housing and we have continued to support them until they rebuild or find a permanent home.
Big kudos to our Community Resources Director, Stacy Glover, and the local HR team that personally met with every team member who requested assistance. More than 600 individuals received a Walmart gift card to purchase needed items; were connected to community nonprofit partners for specific assistance; had questions answered about local, state or federal resources; or simply received encouragement and direction. Our local HR team continues to assist team and community members experiencing difficulties after the 2016 wildfires.
Fundraising efforts were mobilized and the extended Westgate family responded generously. As a result, the Westgate Resorts Foundation committed $250,000 to ongoing relief, prioritizing Westgate team members and other community members who lost their homes. Contributions are ongoing and can be made at www.westgateresortsfoundation.org. Thank you for your support!
Westgate’s vendors provided a variety of useful in-kind donations, including blankets and kitchen supplies. Our travel partner, Interval International, also donated one-week resort stays to each of the three firefighters who successfully rescued two guests trapped in an elevator at the resort. Westgate team members in Knoxville and Myrtle Beach also collected and sent much-needed winter clothing to help those temporarily living in shelters and at Wild Bear Inn. Our Orlando-based nonprofit partner, Christian Service Center, provided bags of food.
While many Westgate team members suffered personal losses, they were still eager to give back to the community they love so much. In response, we created an Adopt-A-Family Program for our local team to personally help their friends and neighbors. They “adopted” 50 area families, providing basic needs and holiday gifts. Team members received gift cards from the Foundation to shop for the families and provided them with much needed holiday cheer.
“Honoring Our Heroes” Event
Westgate’s community outreach also included special recognition of those who helped resort guests escape to safety on the night of the fire. Chants of “WE are Westgate!” filled the Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge as we celebrated the heroism of our team and Gatlinburg’s amazing first responders.