Djony Jaegers


Hello, my name is Djony Jaegers and I am a member of the ROOM FOR CHANGE program by entrepreneurs’ collective The Present Movement. 

I have been working there as a Relations Manager for a year now. ROOM FOR CHANGE is a social responsibility program for hotels in which we use the power of the hospitality world to make a positive impact in the lives of people who are temporarily unhoused. This group is often also called “economically homeless people”. These are people like you and me, without any addictions or psychiatric indications, but without housing. Sometimes life just goes wrong – you lost your job, or you get a divorce and have to move out of your house.

Most people are really just like you and me.

Participating hotels open up one room (or more) for three to six months to a person in the program, helping them off the streets or out of emergency shelters. Through the tranquility and space of the hotel room, combined with the guidance of social partners who work with us, these people really have the space to rebuild their lives and transition into sustainable housing.

Especially here in Amsterdam, it is difficult to find a place to live. Prices are high and it is often impossible to afford rent in the free sector or find a long-term place to live. Most people are not registered long enough to qualify for social housing with a waiting list of 10+ years. Weirdly enough, if you do have an addiction problem, you can get help much quicker, but if you are “only” in search of a place to live it gets really tough because you are labeled as “self-reliant”.

There really needs to be a change in the system.

The program funded mainly by the Start Foundation and The Present 100, has made a significant difference since its founding in 2021. We are grateful of their support and that because of it, we were able to grow. But even after existing for three years, there are still no subsidies that come from governance for the program. If we want to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030 and solve homelessness in Europe by that time, much greater things must be done!

That's why we work together with the hospitality industry.

Since the start of the program, 15 changemaking hotels have made it possible that 150 people were able to rebuild their lives through the program. ROOM FOR CHANGE really is a life-saving proven concept. We even won two awards one was given to initiatives because they create opportunities for people living in Amsterdam in poverty (Omarm award), and the other one for working on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Award).

The program is currently active in four cities: Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam and Eindhoven. It aims to expand its reach to the ten largest cities in the Netherlands, addressing the pressing issue of homelessness on a broader scale.

It makes it possible for the world to become a better place.

After graduating from the Hotel Management School in Maastricht, I found myself uncertain about my career path. I took a job at a newly opened restaurant in Amsterdam, initially just to make money while figuring things out. It was a great time being part of this place in the neighborhood where people came together and became friends. Over time, I grew into the role of manager and discovered a passion for hospitality. I never had an answer to the question where I saw myself in five years. Eventually, I realized I wanted to have my own place, my own restaurant. 

Opening up a bar by the age of 30 felt like a big adventure. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was going somewhere. I made a lot of new friends, met a lot of new people, and I learned a lot, mostly about myself. However, as time passed by, I began to feel a sense of emptiness in my work. Despite the success of the bar, I craved something more meaningful. Besides personal reflection and the challenges brought by the pandemic, I discovered The Present Movement – a collective of entrepreneurs focused on making a positive social impact.

I found an opportunity to merge my hospitality background with my desire to make a difference.

Joining ROOM FOR CHANGE felt like a natural fit for me, allowing me to use my skills for a bigger cause. Today my work is a source of fulfillment and I enjoy working with a smaller team and we all have very stretched-out job descriptions. I was hired to be the relations manager of all hotels and social partners. I visit the hotels and partners, as well as trying to find new ones, checking in with everybody to see how the program is going, if everything is well, what we can do better, see if they want to open up extra rooms and together talk about attracting more hotels. The ROOM FOR CHANGE program is really special to me and it makes me really happy to see these big hotels opening their rooms to help others. It’s not just about making money anymore; it’s about making a difference together!

It's about taking care of the people around me and in the city where I live.

Participating hotels, including DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam, Kimpton de Witt, Casa, Voco, Park Centraal Den Haag and City Hub Rotterdam, offer not just accommodation, they give people the opportunity to get back on their feet. Would you like to make a difference with your hotel? You can just send me an email and I’ll zip over for a coffee at the hotel and explain more about the program. Easy as that. It would be great if every hotel in the city would open up one room for a couple of months. We could really make a difference together. Despite facing financial challenges and stigma about homelessness, we continue to collaborate and spread social responsibility within the hospitality industry.

Together we can make a change and I think that’s an important task as a city and as a local hotel brand. Let’s change lives together!