Fund helps out-of-work restaurant workers during shutdown

Holmesburg resident Cheryl Molle helped launch the Philly Restaurant Server Relief Fund, which has raised over $34,000 in less than two weeks to help restaurant servers.

Holme Circle resident Brittany Stone knew that when the coronavirus shut down the city, her sense of financial security was gone. She’s a server at Max Brenner in Center City, and like hundreds of other restaurant workers in Philadelphia alone, she lost her source of income during the shutdown.

“I only have so much money that can last for so long, not that it’s even that much,” she said.

Stone can feel a sense of relief now that she’s one of the recipients of the Philly Restaurant Server Relief Fund, a fundraiser started by Holmesburg resident Cheryl Molle to help workers like Stone. Operated primarily on Facebook, people have donated $34,000 and counting in less than two weeks to provide servers with relief during the shutdown.

The fund puts $400 a week in the hands of 18 servers impacted by the shutdown. Molle hopes to be able to help more people as the fund continues to spread on Facebook, surpassing the $34,000 mark on Thursday. The fund began with a $12,000 goal but grew rapidly when people found out about it.

“I think people are trying to take care of the people who take care of them,” Molle said.

Going out to eat is a universal experience, and many people know or have worked in the food service industry before, Molle said.

As of Thursday evening, the goal sits at $37,000. The fund will help more workers as it raises more money depending on the order they applied.

Molle created the fund along with fellow activists Venise Whitaker and Humphrey Jones to help people who live in Philadelphia rather than the suburbs, but they can work anywhere.

“We thought that people in Philly would benefit more because the poverty rate is already so bad here,” she said.

The fund launched March 13, the Friday before the shutdown officially went into effect, but noticed many restaurants were already slowing down as people began practicing social distancing before it went into effect. Servers she knew said they were paying more money to get to work than they were earning before the shutdown.

The waiting list reached past 500 applicants before it was closed, though Molle has continued to provide all applications with information and resources.

For workers like Stone, the money makes a life-changing difference.

“I’m honestly so thankful people take time out of their lives to help other people, and one day in the future I’ll pay it forward,” Stone said.

The fundraiser can be found here.