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Many of us know someone in the food and beverage industry who has lost their job or been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, Madeleine MacDonald, a SAIT graduate and an Instructor for the Hospitality Management program at SAIT, has joined the Bartenders Benevolent Fund to help the hospitality industry who have seen their income inhibited during this pandemic.

Created in 2013 by a group of “cocktail enthusiasts” in Toronto, the Bartenders Benevolent Fund is a non-profit financial resource for full-time bartenders, servers and front-of-house support staff working in the Canadian hospitality industry. Their mission is to work in earnest to ensure those in need can make ends meet by providing funds in the form of $100, $250 or $500 grants to hospitality workers affected by injury, illness or the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the first kick-off meeting on March 31, Madeleine and the original team of 18 people have been working around the clock to spread the word about this national funding initiative, recruit new team members, and obtain donations from the public and corporate entities. Most recently, the team has acquired a $25,000 donation from Diageo Canada, one of the world's largest producers of spirits and beers.

When asked why she chose to join this organization, even though she is still working full time, Madeleine said, “I see a lot of people struggling because they’ve lost their jobs, they’ve lost their livelihood, they’ve lost their passion… so I think even if it is a small amount, whatever I can do to help small businesses, or just help anyone in need during this time, especially within our industry, is super important.” Madeleine has also taken it upon herself to track which businesses in Calgary are closed, still operating, the types of services they are offering, and how to get in contact with them. You can view this list here, and if you wish to add a business, please contact Madeleine by email.

If you know of someone who can benefit from this Fund, applications open the week of April 13. Each Monday at 5 pm EST, the amount of grants available and the number of applications under review for funding that week are announced. This announcement will happen weekly on their social media accounts. Applications will open Tuesdays at noon EST and deadlines for submissions are Wednesdays at 5 pm EST or when the maximum amount of applications is reached. The Disbursement Panel then receives blind applications, meaning they have no way to trace the applicant, and awards the grants based solely on the content. The funds are then distributed by the end of the week.

If you wish to apply or to donate, please visit the Bartenders Benevolent Fund website.

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