Helping the Community While Taking Care of Business During a Disaster
July 9, 2021 | Inspiration
Fred Rogers also known as Mister Rogers has a famous quote:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’
Whether it is a natural disaster, an accidental situation, or the aftermath of an incident, crises do happen.
Cities are damaged, businesses are ruined, and individual lives are forever changed. When something happens in the world, it is natural to want to help. During these moments of disaster, entrepreneurs may find themselves in a unique situation – as someone personally affected and also in a position to help.
The business itself can also take a hit during these situations – whether it is from the physical impact of the event, supply chain issues, or customer concerns. It is an unfortunate situation for all.
However, like Mr. Rogers’ mom said look for the helpers. Here are ways entrepreneurs can help in a time of need.
Put Your Skills to Good Use
Whether you are a chef, fitness instructor, crafter, or seamstress, your talents can help others.
In the middle of the night on June 24, 2021, a condo in Surfside, FL collapsed taking the lives of many and leaving hundreds homeless.
Niccole ‘Yessi’ Jury owns Yessi’s Kitchen with her husband, Robert and is a regular vendor at the Surfside Farmer’s Market.
“I have cried so many times in my kitchen over, out of nowhere not knowing why,” Jury said. “I know I’m a little depressed and hurt by so much loss of life. Being a mother has made this so much harder for me. I pray if I or my girls are ever in a situation of this magnitude that people from our community will be willing to show the same love for us. It takes a whole village, even if we think we are unbreakable.”
As a Miami Beach-based meal prep and catering business, Yessi’s Kitchen provided comfort through nutritious meals delivered directly to first responders during their shift change amid search and recovery options.
“We wanted to help because these are not only our clients and customers but also our neighbors who have been devastated by this horrific accident,” Jury said. “It meant so much to us to bring the first responders something special, something handmade by us because it was us the first thing they saw coming out of their hard shifts. These are the most selfless people I have encountered.”
Jury, who founded Yessi’s Kitchen in 2020 after losing her job due to the pandemic, admits that the condo tragedy has impacted business. She’s lost sales due to the Farmer’s Market closure, and customers have canceled their subscriptions due to delivery logistics.
“I trust our community will come together to rebuild Surfside when the time is appropriate,” she said. “This is an amazing town.”
Bring the Community Together
Imani Jackson had already been educating the Minneapolis/St. Paul community about diversity and inclusion through food before the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. She founded Chopped and Served in 2017 while in college. She used the University of Minnesota – St. Paul’s Hillel as a kitchen. Chopped and Served Catering is a company that brings diverse cuisine and flavors to each of its meals.
Following days of civil unrest in the area, Jackson hosted several pop-ups throughout Minneapolis to provide fresh food to hungry children and families in surrounding neighborhoods. The events were a safe space for families to escape to in the shadows of violence, destruction, heavy police presence, and multiple media outlets.
Now This and Target highlighted Jackson as part of its Seen series; which spotlights individuals who are using their voices to amplify the voices of those from marginalized communities.
Organize a Monetary or In-Kind Donation Campaign
After Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston region in 2017, Jessi Roberts could relate. Her boutique, Cheekys Brand based in Plymouth, ID flooded after severe weather in 2015.
“If we didn’t have support from the community, we very well could have gone out of business,” said Jessi Roberts, owner of Cheekys Brand said in an interview with Inc.
She paid it forward and rallied other businesses to donate cash and sellable product to boutiques in the Houston area. Roberts encouraged others to donate inventory to help the entrepreneurs immediately start rebuilding and generate quick revenue.
Use Retail Space as a Community Hub
Emily Lahh owns Lahh Salon blocks away from where Champlin Towers South collapsed in Surfside. Lahh offered free hair washes, shampoos, conditioners, and blow-dries as well as refreshments to anyone in need.
Additionally, she offered to accept product donations to distribute to local organizations working directly with displaced families.
Business Resources for Disaster Philanthropy
Here are nonprofit organizations and federal resources for small businesses looking to assist during a disaster.
- RestoreYourEconomy.org provides resources and best practice information for public and private stakeholders seeking to rebuild their local economies after a disaster as well as assisting the business community in preparing for a disaster.
- Good360 is the global leader in product philanthropy and purposeful giving. The organization partners with socially responsible companies to source highly needed goods and distributes them through a network of diverse nonprofits that support people in need.
- Global Empowerment Mission is a nonprofit organization founded in 2011 as a first responder to global disasters.
- The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is a resource dedicated to helping donors maximize their impact by making more intentional disaster-related giving decisions.
Check-In on Your Operations
While it is noble that you would like to help out others in need, make sure your business is taken care of as well.
A recent survey revealed that 74% of American small businesses do not have a disaster plan, 84% do not have adequate insurance, and 71% lack a backup generator.
Here are organizations and resources that help prepare businesses for a disaster as well as assist recovery efforts.
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
- SBP provides preparedness training and resources to businesses and nonprofits of all sizes to help their organization and employees better prepare for disaster.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center falls under the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is dedicated to businesses that make a difference. The Center created the Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Quick Guides. These tools will provide local chambers and small businesses with practical tools and resources to help your chamber and your business become better prepared for disasters and better understand what steps to take after an event occurs.
“Everyone in this situation is running crazy out of their mind,” Jury said. “Sometimes it is hard for everyone – whether they are a business owner or not, to determine how your donation or service will be useful in times of despair. But there’s no time for gimmicks, you have to be able to execute, show up, and deliver.”
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