The program will provide support to hospitality workers in need.
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, BEST Hospitality Training, and Local 26 collaborated to launch the Hospitality Workers Covid-19 Emergency Fund, announced on November 30. The fund will provide emergency financial assistance, created in response to a 90% unemployment rate in the hotel industry and at least 4,000 people not being able to return to their jobs in hospitality for at least a year.
“We’ve been working since March on a number of fronts relating to Covid relief,” said president and chief executive officer of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Bob Giannino. “…In this case, we’ve seen the incredible devastation that has come to the hospitality industry. …We’ve seen, across that industry, the tradeoffs that folks are having to make around their different basic needs – ‘do I pay for my rent this month?’ ‘Or do I put food on my family’s table?’ ‘Do I have childcare so that I can get to the part time job that I was able to scrape together?’ We felt like this was a particular industry where there was such widespread devastation that required a coordinated and focused response.”
To be eligible for assistance, applicants must be impacted individuals from the hospitality industry who have been laid off or are working minimal hours, struggling to decide between paying rent and having food. The fund will allow them to receive $100 grocery cards from Stop & Shop. According to a press release, many of those who are unemployed have been “cleaning rooms, serving food, preparing meals, or working other front-line service roles for decades.” Many are immigrant women with children.
“These are folks who have not had a lot of formal training or education. As a result, they’re quickly being repurposed to other professions,” said Giannino. “A lot of these folks have found jobs. They’re just not paying anywhere near what they were making previously. They’re balancing their financial needs.”
To learn more about the fund:
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.