Carlyn Cowen | 919-637-6866 |


Former Restaurants Workers Launch Platform That Has Transferred $25,000 Directly To Service Industry and Gig Workers Impacted by COVID-19 Shutdowns

In the month since restaurants and non-essential businesses shut down, former restaurant workers launched a mutual aid platform called Solidarity4Service to allow people to send money directly to service industry and gig workers who have lost work and income due to COVID-19.

“As former service industry workers, we know how it feels to suddenly lose your income and have no idea how to pay for rent, bills, or even groceries. That’s the last thing our friends and neighbors need right now, so we founded Solidarity4Service so that New Yorkers could support people who are really hurting during COVID-19,” said Jenice Acosta, a mental health worker, former restaurant worker, and co-founder of Solidarity4Service.

In the weeks since the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of service industry, freelance, temporary, part time and gig workers have lost jobs and applied for unemployment. But unemployment has been slow to arrive, and many of these workers qualify for minimum benefits due to the nature of their work. For many more workers, State and Federal relief leaves them out entirely.

On the Solidarity4Service platform, impacted workers can sign up in English and Spanish and share their stories of how COVID-19 has impacted their livelihood. Donors can browse the database and send contributions directly to these workers via payment platforms like Venmo or Paypal. To date, nearly 200 donors have sent $25,000 dollars to impacted workers.

“We’ve heard from recipients that they’ve been able to pay for urgently needed food, prescription medications, and supplies for their children. Perhaps even more importantly, we’ve heard that the donations they received made them feel like they’re not alone during this devastating time,” said Carlyn Cowen, a social services worker, former restaurant and freelance worker, and co-founder of #Solidarity4Service

Over 1,300 people have applied for relief on the platform. Soldiarity4Service is encouraging people who have steady incomes to pass along their stimulus checks to impacted workers, as well as the money that people would have been spending at restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.

Recipient testimonials:

“Solidarity4Service has been a lifesaver for both my wife and I during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working as a bartender and server in the New York restaurant industry has been a passion of ours since we moved to the city almost a decade ago, and we could have never imagined our job security being swept from under us. Shortly after we were laid off from our restaurant jobs with no foreseeable return, my wife and I both tested positive for COVID-19. With our rent, utilities, credit card bills, and medical expenses starting to add up, with no money coming in, we contacted several relief organizations. In what seemed like no time at all, we were blessed by gracious donations from Solidarity4Service. They swooped in to help when others weren’t able to. Though we know we have a long road ahead of us, we are hopeful that these arduous times are only temporary, and that we can get back to contributing to our community soon.”

“I am a queer black chronically ill and immuno-compromised organizer and small business owner & artist who lost seven gigs which accounted for 5-7 months of living expenses. I am currently supporting 2 households for a total of 6 people — so COVID19 is a huge hit. The donation I received from #Solidarity4Service supported me in getting food to both households and getting the medication I needed as well. Without it, I’m not sure what I would have done and I am forever grateful!”

“I lost my job at the beginning of March when the restaurant I have worked at for 8 years has closed. There is no guarantee of it reopening and I fear the future of restaurants everywhere that run on very small margins. I have a number of health issues and must follow a strict diet. Having zero income, I have had to choose between paying rent and paying for my medications. I am beyond grateful to have received a donation that allowed me to go to the pharmacy.”

Share the love, share #S4SNYC
Please spread the word far and wide to friends, coworkers, or anyone that’s eaten at a restaurant at some point in their lives, who may be interested in showing some solidarity now!

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