Coronavirus and Meetings
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Hospitality is among the hardest hit industries reeling from coronavirus. In a matter of days, occupancy rates plummeted, hotels across the nation have been forced into temporary closures and thousands of workers have been laid off or furloughed, with more expected in the coming days.
But relief efforts are sprouting up just as quickly. The Above and Beyond Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and rewarding front-line hospitality workers, has launched a fundraising effort to provide immediate relief to the unemployed.
"There are all these hardworking, unsung heroes in our industry," said Mary Jo Valentine Blythe, founder and CEO of TAABF. "We have so much recognition for the executive-level people in hospitality but there really isn't anything for all these individuals that are at the base level and on the front lines. This came on so quickly that a lot of them, who live paycheck to paycheck, were left blindsided and without jobs."
The foundation's Helping Hospitality initiative has already racked up $40,000. Grants of $500 each will be given out to lower-level hospitality workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19-related closures, starting this week.
"I believe it is our responsibility as an industry to come together and give back during this critical time," said TAABF board member Tony Lorenz. "We have relied on these hard-working people to support our events throughout our careers -- the housekeepers, waiters, drivers, cooks and others who make our industry possible. It is time to support them in some way. Incredible front-line individuals in our industry are hurting, much more than we ever will."
Nominations call for hospitality industry employers to submit former employees for consideration. Up to 10 people can be nominated per location. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
TAABF is accepting donations to provide additional grants in the weeks and months to come. "The more we get, the more we'll give," said Blythe. "We're going to keep rolling this out for as long as needed. I think it's going to be a while before our industry gets back to where it was."
Board member and director of incentive sales at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Lynn Pavony agreed and encouraged anyone who can to donate and show their support for the hospitality industry.
"The current situation is greatly affecting individuals who are the backbone of our industry," Pavony said. "It is imperative that we all work together to support them and their families amid this challenging time. The Above and Beyond Foundation is a turn key avenue to do this and encourage everyone to both donate -- no amount is too small -- and spread the word on this opportunity to recognize those many shining stars in the hospitality industry."