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Helping frontline workers in Florida

Last month, I addressed the COVID-19 virus and how adversity can create opportunities with the stock market. When I was writing that, I was still in search of those opportunities. (Some opportunities were, in fact, found.) Also, opportunities other than in the markets were also found. Specifically, a way of helping first responders, local businesses, and frontline workers at the same time.

Good Vibes OnlyFrom virtual meeting to making a difference

I belong to The Rotary Club of Suntree in Brevard County, Florida. This club has a great reputation for contributing to the community. We also have a reputation for having fun while doing it. A sense of humor and a tolerance for good natured ribbing is pretty much a requirement for membership.

While on one of our very first Zoom meetings, we decided to come up with a project that was “beneficial to all concerned” (one of the four-way test questions familiar to Rotarians). We wanted to help the community in a meaningful way. Everyone agreed it would be ideal to give a special “thank you” to first responders and medical personnel — frontline workers and “everyday heroes” facing new (and often frightening) challenges — as well as other workers on the front lines working with customers.

The Great Tastes at Suntree

Retail Foodservice WorkerPerhaps the next group of “everyday heroes” you may think of are foodservice workers, a group heavily impacted by stay at home orders and who have continued serving people while the pandemic is ongoing. The club wanted to do something for these folks, too. For more than a decade, our Rotary Club puts on an event called “The Great Tastes at Suntree.” Each fall, approximately 30 restaurants, caterers, and other food & beverage providers volunteer to serve patrons of this event. There’s live music, raffles, and more. This is a signature event that has benefited charities locally and even internationally. It’s not possible without the incredible generosity of the area’s restaurants and foodservice workers.

Restaurants and Rescuers: helping frontline workers

Healthcare Workers on the Front LinesSo, I volunteered to chair the project. We initiated what we called “R & R”, or Restaurants and Rescuers, and received authorization to utilize the club’s operating budget. That money was used to buy $2,000 worth of gift certificates from local restaurants. The certificates were then distributed to first responders. The local Sheriff, Fire Chief and hospital representatives received the certificates for distribution. We had a few snags due to social distancing concerns, but the project went from idea to delivery in just two weeks. A huge thank you is owed to our club president and our hard-working committee. The project was well received by both the restaurants and rescuers.

This initiative caught the attention of leadership at Allen & Company. They liked the project and its goals, agreeing to match funds with the Rotary Club of Suntree. This allows us to provide even more assistance to our local restaurants and their workers, as well as provide additional support for our first responders. Thanks to Rotary Club of Suntree, to Allen & Company, and especially to the community we serve.

Opportunity is where you find it (and where you create it)

It is said that opportunity is where you find it. Adversity also creates unique opportunities. In this case, the disruption to normal Rotary meetings and face-to-face interaction helped inspire a unique idea that was effective in helping frontline workers in several different areas.

And they deserve everything we can give. Workers in our local communities have stepped up to the task during this crisis. They find opportunities every day to keep things running, keep people safe, and save lives. We’re honoring these folks in Today’s Ultimate Warrior. It hits close to home for me. I am so proud of my daughter, Amber, who is a nurse on the front lines and is directly helping COVID-19 patients. Please send your prayers to all of these warriors, we will see this through.

May 2020

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