Doing our part…because we can. And I think you can, too.

I’m taking a break from my shared journey with Dr Marry to bring you this Covid-19, global pandemic-inspired post because, quite frankly, I don’t believe many segments of our communities can wait until we wrap up our series in two weeks for hundreds of lights to be shone on the very real and dire situation that is happening in real time.

The short sentence version? Independent restaurants/pubs/cafes and more need our help. And they need it today.

So let me share with you what Dr Marry and I did today to address this, only one of the many negative effects related to living through a world-wide shutdown.

We bought gift cards to our favorite independent restaurants. And lots of them.

We are not the first to think of this. In fact, I didn’t think of it. Others did, and I was inspired. But it was this particular post, from a local restaurateur, that really got to me:

The restaurant industry nationwide was literally turned on its head in recent weeks. Locally, it happened 72 hours ago. Overnight our businesses were empty, our revenue streams non-existent, our teams told to file for unemployment, and our personal incomes eliminated.

Tonight I met with an incredible group of independent restaurant owners who all, despite being faced with seemingly impossible circumstances, made time to get together to support one another, share ideas, and even managed to have a few laughs. While brainstorming, we came up with an idea:

If 25% of the Fargo/Moorhead/West Fargo community (61,500 people) purchased a single $100 gift card from their favorite independent restaurant, we could immediately inject $6,150,000 into the economy. And all you are doing is making an advanced deposit on a meal or a delicious craft cocktail that you get to enjoy whenever we all finally get to get back to “normal.”

Most restaurants have the option to purchase gift cards online, so you can still do the social distancing thing. Or you can call in and ask them to mail the gift card if they don’t sell online.

This community can fill a half million sandbags in 4 days when tasked to do so. I believe we can get our independent restaurants through this in a similar manner.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the other posts, but independent restaurants have long been supporters of benefits, non profits, and fundraisers. Here is your chance to show you appreciate them. ~Dan Hurder

I don’t personally know Mr Hurder, but I was inspired by everything he said. So here’s who we supported over the course of 97 minutes:

We for sure didn’t solve their problems, but we helped chip away at them. And we had great conversations with these owners and workers who were overcome, some to tears, by the generosity of this community. This was a very real, truly impactful thing that we could do for them today, and we felt great going in to each of these places and making a purchase.

After every stop, Dr Marry and I eagerly anticipated another bike ride downtown this summer to have a date night or a quick treat stop. We did this today because the local, independent restaurant community needs us, because many of these owners and workers are our friends and all of them are our neighbors.

But it was so much fun that we have decided to make it an annual occurrence around this time of year to prep for the long, lazy days of summer, the glorious freedom of hopping on our bikes and the joy of eating farm to table food prepared by our friends and neighbors.

But we also did this today because we could. We are in a financial position to look around our community and make a difference across many avenues.

Like last week, when I came across an incredible initiative, Home for Good, from the United Way of Cass-Clay under the fabulous leadership of my good friend Kristi Huber. This campaign was created to collect items families need who are moving from homelessness into their first homes. Watch the video they produced of one of their success families with mom Jamie and her kids.

Here’s my Facebook challenge to our community:

I dare you to watch this video and not be moved. I cried through nearly the entire thing. While I can’t relate to most of what Jamie has experienced, I do know how hopeless it can feel to be a young mother without a lot of options. A true testament to how much Dr Marry has grown since getting sober is that he watched it with me, and said, “Let’s each buy a basket.” And so we did. And I hope you will do what you can, too., Kristi Huber, you and your team at United Way of Cass-Clay are making a huge difference in the lives of so many in our community who would have little to no hope without your efforts, and I applaud you and the work. And we are here, on the sidelines, cheering Jamie and her kids on to even more success and stability! ❤️

As a nonprofit leader, I was fearful of the tax changes that increased the amount you had to give to itemize, and we have seen some negative effects from that. But one of the great benefits for me personally is that I know I won’t get to the nearly $25,000, so we have stopped paying attention to where our support goes. In other words, we now view what we did today as investing in our community just like we view giving to a nonprofit. The tax receipt is no longer important, so it has freed us up to be even more generous to individuals, nonprofits, businesses and more.

Here’s my challenge to you all: look around your community and see where you can make a difference. It might be something seemingly small. Believe me, it’s not small to the receiver. It might be something that serves you, too. Trust me, the restaurants were thrilled to see us today, and they’ll be thrilled when we come back in and use our gift cards. It might lift up someone you will never meet. Have faith that your good actions will inspire them to do something kind for someone else. And the ripples will grow, and we will all be better for it.

Now is not the time to hunker down in fear and desperation. I know the economy is as or more scary as Covid-19. But in the end, our humanity is going to save us, and who we are today and the decisions we make will go a long way towards ensuring we come out stronger than ever.

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