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Local non-profit aims to help service industry workers impacted by COVID-19

Posted at 10:53 PM, Nov 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-15 23:26:44-05

CLEVELAND — Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to announce on Thursday whether he will shut down bars, restaurants and gyms as the state sees a surge in COVID-19 cases—but with another shutdown comes uncertainty for those in the service industry about their paychecks, and possibly their jobs. That’s an issue Mark Bailey is working to address.

Last year, Bailey founded a non-profit called “Employees Only” meant to help service workers in Northeast Ohio going through tough times. He never could have predicted that the entire industry would take a huge hit in March when the first shutdown was ordered.

In March, Employees Only was able to pay 30 rent bills, 60 utility bills and provide meals and gas cards to more than 2,500 people in need. Now, the non-profit is gearing up for another wave of people needing help—and they’re asking the community to chip in.

"We're really asking if you have a favorite restaurant you go to, or a favorite bartender you've gone to see on a Thursday night, think about those folks and what they're going to be going through in the next few weeks with the holidays coming up,” Bailey said. “We're really reaching out to the community to see if we can help as many people as possible."

Sonny Berry, a service industry worker who was laid off from his job as a restaurant general manager, said Bailey’s non-profit got him through tough times.

"I would be homeless right now if it wasn't for the help of Employees Only,” Berry said. "It was definitely one of the best feelings ever to know that somebody I don't even know is willing to—first off the people that donate to the non-profits, just people that are caring like that—and to know that there is still good out there and that there's help when people need it."

To donate or learn more about Employees Only, click here.