Alan Rhodes, attorney, business professional, and member of the LCU Board of Trustees has found a way to help local nurses, first responders, and doctors in Lubbock and Amarillo with one of their most basic needs—a place to sleep.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many of those fighting on the frontlines knew they risked bringing the virus back to their loved ones at the end of the day, deciding instead to rent rooms at hotels or other temporary, isolated residences.
“As a society, we're all making sacrifices during this unusual time. When you think of groups of people, however, it's hard to think of a group that's making a bigger sacrifice right now than our healthcare workers,” said Kevin Nelson, Rhodes’ law and business partner. “Many of them are not able to go home either because they can't risk being exposed by their family since their job is essential or they can't risk exposing their family since they are working near people that have been exposed.”
Rhodes, a 1980 graduate of Lubbock Christian University and a shareholder at Underwood Law Firm in Amarillo, owns two locations of the My Place hotel chain along with Nelson—one in Amarillo, and the other in Lubbock. When they learned of the sacrifices many of these health workers were making, they knew they had to help.
“We heard stories of doctors who were setting up tents in their garages so that they didn’t run the risk of infecting their families,” Rhodes said. “We saw the need, and are trying to help, to the extent that we can with what we’ve got.”
At each of their My Place hotels, Rhodes and Nelson have been giving free rooms to health care employees as they’ve expressed need. They also have offered a number of discounted rooms—but as the community heard of what they were doing, donors have stepped up to cover the rest of the cost of those rooms, as well. To date, rooms that My Place had completely covered were well over 150, and hundreds more were heavily discounted.
“One of my favorite stories came out of Lubbock,” said Anna Watson, the manager of the hotels. “We had a nurse who couldn’t go home, so she was staying with us. Her children actually came out to the parking lot so that she could see them from her window, and they made pictures from her and the other healthcare workers on the sidewalk outside with chalk. They wrote, ‘We love you,’ and ‘This too shall pass.’”
My Place is an extended-stay hotel, which works especially well for the extra guests. Each room has a full kitchen and is designed for a more permanent stay than most hotels. Rhodes explained that, where the COVID-19 pandemic has closed many hotels, their locations are actually doing well. “I think it’s because we’re well-designed for situations like this,” he said.
“Our mission is that we’re here to help people, to serve them,” Watson added, “and this is a perfect example of that.”v
Rhodes and Nelson are glad to offer the help they can to those serving on the frontline. “They really are doing an amazing thing right now, and I’m proud that we can support them in this way. I am beyond proud of our team,” said Nelson. “Their extra effort and their personal sacrifices inspire me.