Despite restaurants and non-essential businesses being closed, many are giving back to those in need. Whether it’s free lunch or breakfast for first responders and students or deep discounts to active servicemen and women, these area businesses have decided to step up rather than bail out amidst their own economic uncertainty.
Newly opened brewery, Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers, barely cut the ribbon before the economy came to a halt. Rather than board up, they decided to serve free lunch to all first responders in uniform: “We are just trying to help wherever we can,” owner Ehab Atallah responds. “Please don’t thank us for staying open, there are people out there risking their lives for us, they are the ones that should be thanked.”
That feeling is shared with another in Wilton Manors business that is also stepping up to the plate. Wilton Wings extended their hours Sunday through Thursday to help accommodate first responders on the road. “Wilton Wings takes care of fire, police, and veterans. We offer year-round discounts of 15% off the entire bill. These are the people who make the ultimate sacrifices for our safety,” said Gary Bouvier, the owner. “We love police, fire and Veterans.”
Natures Smoothies, located in Fort Lauderdale, is also providing free fresh-pressed juice with high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants to all first responders at company cost. “I just opened two months ago, but it’s the least I can do for the community that believed in my business before all of this,” states Juan Calle, owner.
Another brand-new business right here in Oakland Park saw a need and decided to fill it. Newly opened Bowl’d Smoothies began offering free breakfast for students K-12. “We know a lot of the kids and families rely on school lunches to get breakfast and lunch. We have made a decision to try and help our community and kids who are out of school right now. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” they said in a statement on their Instagram post.
La Mexicana Taco Bar also announced via Facebook that they would serve free food to those out of work and asked the community to share, especially with single mothers in need during these hard times.
Other members of the community are reaching out also. Oakland Park Kiwanis announced that the Osman family handmade 50 masks, which were delivered to Holy Cross, Broward House, a clinic in Georgia, and Tequila Sunrise in Oakland Park, to help those serving the community stay safe.
Oakland Park’s Vice Mayor, Jane Bolin recently partnered with Domenico Caruso and his Oakland Park restaurant Cucina Caruso Italian Market & Pizza to deliver lunch to the doctors and nurses at Imperial Point Hospital. “If you are able to help, please do,” says Bolin. “All signs point to this getting worse before it gets better,” she stated in a Facebook post on Tuesday, March 31st.
All signs do point to the coronavirus getting worse before it gets better, but in the meantime, the community outreach may just prove to be the pillar of strength during these trying times. We are beginning to see the good in out of this situation. Not just in our own backyards but around the world.
Proving that humans are resilient and resourceful in times of need and the spirit of giving back is the beginning of light at the end of a long tunnel that we all need a glimpse of.
Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.
Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.
She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.