With the closure of bars, restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses not considered essential to the COVID-19 response, many workers are struggling to make ends meet. New relief efforts by fellow Vermonters have begun to address the need—serving those workers who, until recently, had been serving others.
Local restaurant franchise Skinny Pancake, known for its sweet and savory crepes as well as a local music scene, has begun a program called ShiftMeals to provide free meals to laid-off restaurant workers, musicians, artists, gig workers, farmers, and those in need. Vivid Coffee Roasters in Winooski has established a fundraiser for baristas, donating $2 per from each online order to support out of work baristas at their partner coffee shops.
Local artists and musicians are also feeling the economic impacts, as their typical venues, ranging from small coffeeshops to galleries to large theaters, are all closed. Many artists have moved online. You can watch violin craftsman Jacob Brillhart build a violin from scratch and make a contribution to his fund to support musicians. One lucky donor will win the violin when it’s done. Burlington City Arts has started a relief fund for local artists whose arts opportunities have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19.
Booksellers like Montpelier’s Bear Pond Books have also been impacted, reducing staff down to one or two people fulfilling orders online. A relief fund for booksellers was created by the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
There are also support efforts for the state’s front line workers. In southern Vermont, residents can purchase meals from local restaurants for delivery to healthcare workers at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.
Burlington indie band the Couchsleepers have created an online donation jukebox, raising money for medical supplies while people enjoy virtual concerts.
Parents of children at elementary schools in Williston created a fundraiser to assist the janitorial staff who are cleaning and sanitizing their schools.
These are all examples of the Vermont way and how Vermonters often band together in times of crisis. No matter how big or small, every act of kindness creates a web of support that will allow Vermonters to rebound as the economy continues to slowly restart.