In a time where there seems to be an endless onslaught of negative news feeds, it’s important to take a step back and recognize the good deeds that communities are doing for each other. Neighborhoods across the country are stepping up to the plate and doing their part to keep everyone afloat. Service industry workers are among the hardest hit by mandatory shutdowns, but new projects like Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) “Pittsburgh Virtual Tip Jar” are working hard to alleviate some of the financial stress.
CMU’s Center for Ethics and Policy website has given typical bar and restaurant patrons the opportunity to help support employees who rely on tips during these trying times. The website allows service industry professionals the ability to enter their Venmo or Paypal information, and then provides their Venmo or Paypal information to the patrons who are currently isolated from attending their favorite spots. Danielle Wenner, the associate director of the Center for Ethics and Policy, and assistant professor of philosophy at CMU, recently told PGH City Paper “With the city (and now the state) ordering all non-essential businesses to shut down, many service industry workers are likely to find themselves without a steady income. The U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as some non-profits in the area, are working to help small business owners keep their businesses open, but as far as I’m aware, there’s nothing in place for their workers.” Creative solutions like the Pittsburgh Virtual Tip Jar, help bridge the gap between Government assistance and immediate community needs.
More “traditional” community support is also coming from four of Pittsburgh’s largest philanthropies. The Pittsburgh Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Hillman Family Foundations, and the Heinz Endowments have all aligned to “provide $10 million in relief funds to assist the most vulnerable people in the region with food, health care, and other needs…” according to Joyce Gannon of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The first round of grantmaking will take place within the next few weeks, and preference will be given to “those most vulnerable to the negative effects of curtailment of daily economic activities, school operations, transportation options, day care services and a range of government programs,” the foundations said. The goal is to provide immediate relief, but also to start developing the recovery plan which will be necessary to restoring things back to normal.
It’s easy to get hung-up on every negative headline out there, so it’s more important than ever to take a step back and realize the positives of our current situation. Focusing on the good in people will help our communities pull through these challenging times and come out stronger on the other side.