We’re so happy you stopped by #bigthanks.

As I write this, we’re celebrating our one-week anniversary of this all-volunteer nonprofit project. Michelle had the brilliant idea to help struggling restaurants by buying meals for those who are, and will be, doing so much for the community during this pandemic.

Together, after just our first week, we’ve delivered meals for over 1,000 healthcare workers, first responders and highly-impacted low income communities in the Greater Seattle region, thanks to generous donations of over $10,000. We’ve given meals to multiple Seattle Fire Department stations, El Centro de la Raza, EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland and Providence Hospital in Everett, the Overlake Hospital Emergency Room staff, and the Ronald McDonald House charity for families with children in hospitals.

You can donate to Gratitude Meals here:

Donate

We’ve done this safely and responsibly. We’ve let them know they’re supported, and actually helped reduce the total foot traffic coming and going from these facilities at mealtime and after hours, because single bulk deliveries are far less impactful than multiple ones. The money raised has gone directly to long-standing restaurants in the community, and in turn their food service professionals. They really appreciate the support.

Ronnie and Shannon, at Shawn O’Donnell’s downtown restaurant, who helped us feed 200 night shift workers at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland and 100+ firefighters in downtown Seattle at 4 stations on March 17th, 2020

There are lots of ways to contribute during this crisis, and many don’t even cost money. On Monday, we launched bigthanks.org, providing a hub for everyone to discover ways to contribute in this time of crisis, and to help promote urgent needs in the community.

What we’re finding is that lots of great people like you want to help, but might not quite know how, or what can be done safely from home. So we’ve put up some useful articles, tips, guides and a community message board to help connect those in need with those who can help. We invite you to share needs and programs related to this COVID crisis in the Greater Seattle area on the message board.

Get Involved

Things are moving rapidly, and we’ll be adding more articles and opportunities to help out, so come back to bigthanks.org often, and add your own ideas to the message board.

Our goal is to connect people who want to help with practical, safe and responsible ways to keep our community strong. Know how to sew? We’ll point you to who needs masks. Know how to code? We’ll show you to open source projects who need your help. Want to take simple, practical actions to help those hardest hit? We’ll be offering some ideas.

We’re currently looking into ways more people can easily donate amounts small to large, making it easy for people around our region to chip in. We’re thinking through vendor selection, and matching needs with great local partners. And because we’re learning a lot with this project, we’re also writing some practical “how to” lessons so that people in other cities can learn how to do this all responsibly and safely.

The brave firefighters and EMT’s of Seattle Fire Station 10 are about to have a delicious meal, on you.

Like a lot of things at this very moment, it’s very fluid. But we already know we’ve done a lot of good, and the recipients were extremely thankful to be recognized. It’s a small gesture, but we hope it signals to them that the community is behind their hard efforts, perhaps much more than they may know. At EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland, Meegan and Kae explained that night-shift workers don’t have access to hot meals, since it’s not during the normal cafeteria hours; they were so grateful. Over 80 ICU staff employees work the night shift to care for people in urgent need, and they really appreciated not having to take off their full personal protective gear and re-don it to get dinner.

We don’t have all the answers for what’s ahead in this journey. But we know many areas of the community are hurting, and we are learning every day about practical actions we can take to help. We’ve built a place to share them.

We really appreciate you pitching in, donating, helping how you can, and spreading the word.

#bigthanks to you.
Steve, Michelle, Kristy, Molly and team.


Author

I've lived in Seattle since 1991, and held jobs at Microsoft, Expedia and my own few startups. I've taught a class on innovation at the UW Foster School of Business. I love Seattle and the greater Puget Sound region. I've got a wife, three kids and a dog, who, other than me, is by far the most difficult member of the household.

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