When Matt Dolan became general manager of the newly opened Homewood Suites by Hilton Palo Alto in 2015, he didn't anticipate that his role would become a conduit for community service.
At most, he thought the position would provide an opportunity to live in Palo Alto.
Seven years later, however, the extended-stay hotel at 4329 El Camino Real has become widely recognized for its community outreach, in large part because of the programs Dolan has spearheaded since its opening.
The hotel supports local nonprofits in a variety of ways: When Project WeHope, for example, launched its mobile showers program as part of its services for the local homeless population, Homewood Suites supplied the East Palo Alto nonprofit with hygiene kits each month. And when Ecumenical Hunger Program and other nonprofits host meetings, the hotel opens up its conference rooms for free. The hotel also routinely provides gift baskets and free lodging to assist in the fundraising efforts of nonprofit agencies.
During the CZU Lightning Complex fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties in 2020, Homewood Suites offered up a mix of rooms for free or at a greatly reduced price, Dolan said.
"People were showing up with the clothes on their backs," he recalled.
In recognition of these efforts, the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and Palo Alto Weekly are recognizing the hotel as the 2022 outstanding business at the annual Tall Tree awards ceremony on Thursday, April 21.
Judy Kleinberg, former Palo Alto mayor and former CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, is among those who nominated Homewood Suites for the Tall Tree award.
"The hotel has become a valuable community asset that goes beyond the basics of professional hospitality to a higher standard of generosity and responsibility for the community it serves," Kleinberg wrote.
Dolan said he is grateful for the company's support and proud of all the programs that the hotel has participated in.
Dolan said he felt motivated to give back to the community through the hotel after TMH Hotels, owner of Homewood Suites, relocated him and his family from Wichita, Kansas, to Palo Alto so his daughter, who has cystic fibrosis, could be closer to medical resources at Stanford Hospital.
"Palo Alto just checked every box," said Dolan, who has been in the hotel industry since 1993.
Dolan's move to Palo Alto and his role at Homewood Suites have proved to be fruitful in unexpected ways: He has found personal satisfaction in giving back to the community, and his daughter has found the health care she so desperately needed. After being on a waitlist, she finally got "the call" for a lung transplant three years ago, he said.
Dolan said seeing his name and Homewood's name in this year's Tall Tree awards came as a bit of a surprise.
"When I saw the list of the winners ... I was like, 'Dang, these are some really high-powered people,'" he said. "How did I slip in the door?"
Read more stories on the 2020 and 2022 Tall Tree Award honorees:
• Dr. Sara Cody: Making the tough decisions
• Dr. Yvonne "Bonnie" Maldonado: 'Constantly adapting'
• Cammie Vail: Paying it forward
• Pastor Paul Bains: 'Hope' for the unhoused
• Hal Mickelson: Steering the future of Palo Alto's past
• Roger Smith: Finding justice for murder victims' families
• Palo Alto Players: The art of lifting a community's spirit
• Peninsula Open Space Trust: Committed to conservation