Community Support During the Time of COVID-19 November 1, 2020In our annual November issue, we normally highlight some of the great ways to give back to the community and focus on raising an altruistic child. So many worthy organizations have been covered by Nola Family through the years during this Thanksgiving month. This year we’re taking a different approach, focusing instead on how New Orleans community needs have changed due to COVID-19, and talking about several of the organizations meeting those needs and how we can support them. Hospitality Workers New Orleanians have a love-love relationship with the hospitality industry. But how many realize that this industry’s revenues most recently represented 43% of the city’s operating budget? Hospitality employees have experienced mass layoffs and loss of benefits since New Orleans’ initial shutdowns in mid-March.Dine Out Find decadent dining deals at world-renowned restaurants all around New Orleans from October 19 - November 22.One key way to support hospitality workers and keep them employed during COVID-19 times is by dining out or picking up meals for enjoying at home. And industry leaders are making this easy for you through a tourism initiative called Coolinary Encore. This program includes 55 local restaurants featuring phenomenally priced brunch, lunch, and dinner safe-dining options. The program runs through November 22, after which time the annual (and similar) Holidays New Orleans-Style program begins. Louisiana Hospitality Foundation The Louisiana Hospitality Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Louisiana’s hospitality industry through support of individuals within the community.Active and on the local scene since 2006 is the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to strengthen Louisiana’s hospitality industry through workforce programs and worker access to education and providing financial assistance to hospitality workers during times of crisis. Earlier this year, the foundation partnered with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana to provide COVID-related assistance to 4,800 people in the region ($2.4 million). However, hospitality workers (traditionally paid minimum wage) are caught in the lurch regularly. And so, the foundation is focusing now - as they have since 2006 - on helping this industry’s community with grants during personal times of emergency. The crises these grants cover are different for each person - from house fires and funeral expenses, to rent and utility payment shortages during times of illness. Their program has recently also helped Lake Charles hospitality workers affected by Hurricane Laura.Senior Citizens Big TREEsy Giveaway: Nola Tree Project's wildly successful tree giveaways offer trees to homeowners and planters across the city free of charge, and run educational workshops on the importance, care, and maintenance of trees. More info.Our seniors, as we well know, have greater COVID-19 health risk factors, leading to a large proportion of them needing to safely social distance at home, unable to go to their regular senior programs or community centers. One non-profit organization pivoting to meet senior needs is NOLA Tree Project, which was integral to addressing environmental challenges post-Katrina. Says Executive Director Connie Uddo, “We identified a need, identified our partners, put “a” and “b” together, and were off and running,” about how she came to organize volunteer delivery of well over 300,000 prepared meals to 17 local zip codes since March 15. (The group delivered 900 meals on October 19, the day we spoke with Ms. Uddo.)Fighting Educational Inequity It’s become apparent since the advent of COVID-19 that many tragic inequalities exist in our community - including healthcare support, access to nutritious meals, and educational inequalities. According to 2018 census data, 19% of households nationally do not have internet access at home. In New Orleans, almost a third of households do not, and for households with less than $20,000 in annual income, that rises to 55%.New Orleans Technology Access Fund NOLA Public Schools offers quality help to schools to make the curricular and instructional shifts necessary to meet more rigorous academic standards.To address this, NOLA Public Schools purchased 10,000 Chromebooks to meet the needs of students without computers. They also procured 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots and identified the need for 3,000 more, amounting to $700,000 in needed funding for connectivity. This fund was created to provide internet and technology access to students on an ongoing basis and so reduce the significant risk of their learning loss. Donations as small as $20 buy one month of internet connection for a child or family.