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Sheraton Downtown Phoenix employs more than 40 Afghan refugees

The Sheraton in downtown Phoenix is helping over 40 Afghan refugees
The Sheraton in downtown Phoenix is helping over 40 Afghan refugees(Arizona's Family)
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 5:37 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Sheraton Downtown Phoenix says they’ve hired more than 40 refugees from Afghanistan who are eager to work and have independence as they start their new lives in America.

“We found one individual’s resume back in November as a general accountant and reached out to his agency. From there, the flood gates opened because we were able to hire them before they had their social security numbers,” said Erin Flothmeier, the Market Director of Human Resources. “A lot of them were in backlog. So many individuals entered the country at once, they got backlogged, they were waiting to be able to get a job, and we were able to reach out and hire quite a few all at once. And since then, it’s been a lot of employee referrals.”

Flothmeier said the refugees make up about 15% of their staff right now. “Housekeeping, dishwashing, cook, server assistant, purchasing and receiving and accounting, banquet setup,” Flothmeier explained. “Same pay, same health benefits, time off — everything. They’re full-time, regular associates with us, part of our team. They’re not brought in under a different classification or anything like that.”

Flothmeier says not only do they now have a place to work, but Sheraton Downtown Phoenix is also offering them help in other categories.

“We try to keep in mind that they’ve come to us with almost nothing from their home country. Some of them didn’t even arrive with paperwork because they couldn’t go home to get it when the crisis happened. We’ve not only done bank accounts with them showed them how to use the bus, but we’ve constructed a prayer room because 100% of them are Muslim, and they want to continue their faith, and we want to give them space to do that,” Flothmeier said. “We want to make them feel at home and make them know they’re welcome with us.”

One of the men hired to work at the hotel is now a cook in their kitchen. He says a friend told him about Sheraton Downtown Phoenix. “When I came from Afghanistan, there’s a different society, a different world, and different rules — so when I got to Arizona, one of my friends worked here at the Sheraton and called and said, “Do you have a job? I said no, I’m looking for a job, and he said, “Okay, come to Sheraton,” explained Fahim A.

Fahim arrived in America with his wife and toddler about seven months ago. “I spent like two months in a camp, so when I came back to here, I spend two months in a hotel, and it was a bad situation, and now I’m here, and I feel good. And I have a job now. It’s good,” Fahim said.

He says the staff at Sheraton showed him the ropes right away.

“When I was here, I didn’t feel like I’m new here. They ask about your families, and they take care of you like I like working here. They work like a family. I like it the most,” said Fahim. “I’ve never seen this kind of work before. Like they’re going to pay you, they’re going to help you. If you have family issues, they’re going to help. If you need them, they’re going to help you. That’s why I like the Sheraton.”

Blackstone, which owns and operates Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, has supported the hotel and their other properties in hiring refugees over the past several months. They released this statement:

“We are so grateful to be able to support refugees while, at the same time, filling an essential staffing need and further developing our diverse workforce. We’re proud to see this initiative come to fruition at the Sheraton Phoenix and are continuing to explore and expand the program at other locations,” said Scott Spurlock, Asset Manager for BRE Hotels and Resorts, a Blackstone portfolio company.