Here is part 2 of the Hernandez families adoption fundraising story!
We turned our house into a bed and breakfast:
Indeed. It was rather fortuitous that I found out about this concept through a single colleague-friend who lives on South Beach in Miami, Florida, who was paying exorbitant rent. She saw all the tourists flocking there and recognized a good thing. She started renting out her extra room via www.airbnb.com and suddenly was making enough to pay her rent—and more. (A little about Airbnb: You don’t have to make breakfast if you don’t want to. You set all the stipulations and rules. For example, we only took in single people and set a zero tolerance policy for alcohol or drugs. You can also ask the guests questions about the reason for their stay and Skype them first if you want to. We took in almost everyone though, but we refused to take in unmarried couples just for our own conscious’ sake. Also, we only offered tea or coffee in the morning and set it out for them. We work full-time and didn’t have the time to do more than that. When I could, like on the weekends, I would do something little something extra like put in some cinnamon rolls for international guests who didn’t know about my 10-minute Pillsbury rolls-in-a-tube trick. They were dazzled by my hospitality.)
So we had one extra room (destined for our soon-to-be child but had been used as a mother-in-law bedroom or for friends visiting from out of town), that is what we rented out. Luckily it has its own little bathroom attached. We don’t live in the nicest neighborhood, but it is two blocks from a touristy area in Little Havana in Miami. There are a lot of people who like to experience Cuban culture while in Miami. So I created a profile and added pictures and waited to see if any tourists would actually want to stay with us. Wow! Did they ever come! The very first day we got a text from an Italian, our first guest. He was so happy to be with us and gave us a stellar review. After him, came more and more and more from all over the world—all resulting in raving reviews of our place (and our adorable dog). In less than 8 months we hosted 27 guests at approximately $55-65/night depending on demand and the season. We made $4,600—plus tips that people left us because we made it known on our site that this was a way to raise money for our international adoption.
You may think, “Well, there are not many tourists where I live.” But maybe you live near an airport, a campground, a race track, a rod and gun club, a renaissance fair, a big popular mall, a hunting area, a university or a college, a stadium, a port, etc.. You would be surprised! People are looking for alternative ways to stay cheaper and more comfortable like in a home setting, and if you are the type of person who wants to adopt, you have a special heart, and people sense that warmth and enjoy that light which is so rare to find in traditional lodging.
Also, you may think, “Whoa, to have total strangers in your house, with your house keys, coming in and out on their own! What?! Maybe they are crazy axe murderers!” Actually they are vetted through the website, and you could have access to their information like drivers license and passport through Airbnb if they decided to do something stupid. The most negative experience we had was a guest that was upset that our dog pushed open her unclosed door and woke her up in the morning with wet kisses. (Well, we warned her to shut the door…oops. The dog thought she was only doing a good deed).
When we decided to shut down our Airbnb business to start selling the furniture which we used in that spare bedroom to replace it with kid friendly bed and dresser (which we ended up getting MORE for it on Craig’s List than what we paid originally), I was really sad, but now the room is for our son! Let me tell you, we met so many incredible people from around the US and the World who left notes and tips (everything from $20 to $120) and sent us postcards. It was a beautiful experience. It was assuring that there are good hearts out there. If you can do it, go for it! If you want ideas or a template of how to set it all up, contact me at [email protected] . In any case, the website is very easy to maneuver and the company is easy to work with.