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Community supporting service workers during pandemic; Virtual tip jar established

Many local residents at Lake Tahoe are connected to the service industry.

As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, service industry jobs have been severely affected.

For workers who rely on tips, closures have been detrimental to income.

While many restaurants have closed down, there are still several around the lake that have moved strictly to curbside or delivery.

Crazy Good Bakery at the Y in South Lake Tahoe has shut their doors, but opened a call in, walk up window for customers. “Hours have been cut back drastically but the customers we do get all seem super grateful that we are open,” said Chelsie Rossell, a barista. “With less customers and business there is definitely way less tips, but I know that I am not alone in that and I am just grateful to still have work for the time being.”

While business has slowed, the light of the community has still shined bright.

“I feel like if customers are in a position to be a little more generous than normal with their tipping then they definitely do, and I so appreciate them for it.”

Mike Smith is a local musician that plays music daily at various restaurants and bars. With the Shelter-in-Place initiative and closure of many of the venues where Smith plays, live performing is not an option and with that comes loss of tips.

Smith recently tried a live-streamed performance with his Venmo handle.

“People were pretty generous. I did feel a tiny bit guilty because these people probably aren’t working either,” said Smith. “I’ve been trying to think of a way to pay it forward and do my part as well.”

After the live-streamed video, Smith received several ‘thank you’ messages online.

Smith and another local musician, Taylor Huff, recently released an album together called Rebel Heart Tahoe.

“Luckily I have the ability to offer something like that online and am grateful to be able to make any money and brighten some days,” Smith said.

Nick Giordano was the bar manager at the Loft and was in the process of launching a food truck here in Tahoe.

He has worked in the local service industry for a decade. When Giordano saw how service workers in our community were being affected, he went on a search for a way to help. Giordano noticed how big tourism cities like Los Angeles were starting virtual tip jars to help service industry professionals.

Giordano decided to bring the same idea here to Tahoe.

“Big percentage of Tahoans are being affected by this,” said Giordano. “We are a community that relies on the service industry.”

Giordano created a Tahoe Basin Virtual Tip Jar that will help assist service industry professionals who live in the Lake Tahoe Basin and have lost their job due to COVID-19.

The virtual tip jar is meant to financially help those who primarily rely on tips as income within our community including bartenders, musicians, hair stylists, baristas and more. Service industry workers can register themselves on the site with either Venmo or Cash App.

The database randomly chooses a worker and gets the opportunity to be “tipped” and the individual gets directly paid from their chosen platform.

“This community has given so much to me and the rest of us,” said Giordano. “This is a way to give back to the community and fellow co-workers.”

Giordano also created a Facebook page “Tips for Tahoe” which creates a platform for service industry workers to share challenges, issues or inspiration. This page acts as a support group for workers during difficult times and Giordano wants to keep the page active moving forward.

“There really isn’t any sort of support group or community outreach program for service industry employees,” said Giordano.

This page is also a way to say thank you to people who are tipping through the virtual tip jar.

To join the Facebook group visit http://www.facebook.com. If you would like to donate or if you work in the service industry and want to register for the virtual tip jar visit, https://serviceindustry.tips/en/ca/lake-tahoe/. groups/868516500254539/.

If you would like to donate or if you work in the service industry and want to register for the virtual tip jar visit, https://serviceindustry.tips/en/ca/lake-tahoe/.


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