Table & Main’s Reaction: Our restaurants fully transitioned to a takeout only model in early March, and we moved quickly to establish an operation that would provide some cash flow during the pandemic. It was very clear that, not only was our business in crisis, but also many individuals in our community were hammered by layoffs, furloughs, and other uncertainties. With Table & Main temporarily closed and most of our staff still able to work, we knew we had the resources to help our friends and neighbors by doing what we do best: nurturing the community with food and hospitality. Immediately we established a process and assembled a team to convert Table & Main essentially into a soup kitchen donating prepared lunches 6 days/week at no charge, no questions asked. Team members from all three restaurants, including Osteria Mattone and Coalition Food and Beverage contributed to these efforts, which served a total of 9,723 meals from March to May. That’s 152 meals a day. Obviously, this was a need in our community, and we were proud to be a helping hand for those who reached out. However, it was also a vital link from our team to the sort of direct, vibrant hospitality we enjoy most in our jobs. Let’s be honest, our takeout operation was essential in providing revenue to pay the bills, but it’s hard to get the same sense of warm, welcoming hospitality from that experience that we loved about a full, bustling dining room. It was amazing to see the community support for this effort. We received over 350+ individual donations that helped greatly defray the costs of the program. Our partners like Sysco, Horizon Food Group, and US Foods were hugely supportive in their donations as well. This was a true “community for community” effort, and we were proud and honored to be a part.
Maryellen’s Reaction: I did a thing. I left my home, my family, my comfort zone for 3.5 weeks, and I went to a city I’ve always considered a friend, to (in my head) relieve some medical workers who needed a break so they could go home and see their kids for a bit… That was my reasoning. I would have wanted someone to do that for me, right?
And people in NYC cheered for me. They cheered for all of us in scrubs. They saw us on the street and called us all “heroes”, clapping and thanking us as we walked to work.
There were days and moments that were hard or emotional, when I wanted to go home, or I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, or I cried all day from seeing so many sick and dying patients alone in their ICU rooms… It challenged me and changed me. But I’d do it again.
I’m not a hero. I just showed up as a friend. That’s what we do in healthcare—we show up and help. The real heroes are the NY first responders, who never had a choice—they were in it from the beginning, and they continued to show up.
I’ll never forget my time at Bellevue Hospital…. not as a visitor, but as a PART of that amazingly strong, resilient, heroic city, New York, NY. Thanks for having me, NYC!
Winner: Sarah Gross
Sarah’s Reaction: “I am from Statesboro but now live in Marietta with my husband, Michael, two dogs, and two cats. I got my nursing degree from Georgia Southern University in 2009 and have worked in Behavioral Health and the Emergency Room throughout my career. Throughout COVID 19, I have also taken crisis contracts in a Long-Term Care facility and at a COVID testing center. I love that nursing is a field that offers a diversity of positions and experiences. Every day, I work with a team of other healthcare professionals to treat patients from many different backgrounds with a variety of presentations, diagnoses, and abilities. We see lots of suffering, sad endings, and disappointment in our days, but we also see triumphs, relief, and examples of how much people love and care for each other. Thank you so much to Ashley for nominating me. This has been a particularly scary and emotionally difficult year to work in healthcare. We in healthcare are appreciative of the increased recognition from the public, including signs, applause, and even arranging meals to be delivered to the hospital.”