Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and hotels had the highest nationwide concentration of those most in need. Now, hospitality and gig economy workers are under even more stress, facing unprecedented financial obstacles. Restaurants and hotels closed overnight, and most workers have no immediate way to make up these lost wages. Those who retain part-time hours have to confront increased health risks just to do their jobs.
Our region has two organizations serving this vulnerable population. Big Table in Eastern Washington and CDAIDE in North Idaho are established, community-based nonprofits serving the hospitality industry. They are helping to provide stability for workers who have suddenly found themselves without a safety net.
Both Big Table and CDAIDE now have COVID-19 Hospitality Relief Funds at Innovia Foundation, and they’re using contributions to make a tangible difference. For instance, Big Table was able to cover living expenses for Shelly, a hostess who has worked at a local eatery for over 20 years. At higher risk due to her age, Shelly is now able to maintain stable housing while she figures out where to work next. “I am so thankful and feel so blessed,” Shelly says. “I will pay this forward when possible, I promise.”
Anyone can contribute to the COVID-19 Hospitality Relief Funds: