In two short weeks, Heroes & Restaurants has raised $30,000 and served nearly 250 meals to front line workers with a high potential of exposure to COVID-19 — doctors, nurses, firemen, hospital janitors, and staff at nursing homes.
Boosted by an initial investment of $15,000 from the Shone family, the program will feed thousands in New Castle County while helping struggling restaurants.
Heroes and Restaurants has already delivered delicious lunches and dinners prepared by city restaurants including Mrs. Robino’s, Dead Presidents, Jalapeno Grill, Three Stars Pizza, Carmen’s Kitchen and Papa’s Food Market.
The initiative came together last month, when Michael Shone, who recently sold his investment consulting business, teamed up with Sarah Lester of Cornerstone West CDC and the Feeding Front Line Healthcare Givers fund run by Meg Geisewite, which already had a program in place connecting restaurants to healthcare workers.
Geisewite’s program has already fed over 1,000 front line workers.
The effects of the coronavirus have touched Shone in a variety of ways.
“Our son is a fireman and an EMT in Baltimore County, and they told him that he will definitely now get exposed to the COVID virus,” he said.
Shone, who spends half the year in Florida, says he also regularly volunteers at a local food bank there. Like the Food Bank of Delaware, the Florida operation has seen a significant increase of requests for essential food supplies.
Restaurants in Wilmington’s West Side busy filling orders for heroes
Last month Sarah Lester reached out to Shone about a COVID relief fund to help struggling local businesses on the city’s West Side.
That’s when Shone had an idea.
“So I said look, why don’t we address two birds with one stone. How about if we put money up with a matching campaign, and I’ll also help raise some money. And we can take care of two issues — help the restaurants, and feed the heroes. Let’s take care of all the people who are on the front line putting their lives on the line for the rest of us,” he said.
Since that conversation, other Shone family members have contributed to the Heroes & Restaurants fund. Shone Lumber, which sells building materials at three locations in Delaware, was founded by Bill Shone in 1957. Then son John took over the business, which was sold about two years ago.
Meg Geisewite is glad her ready-made system of food delivery — including the key contacts at hospitals and police and fire stations plus a comprehensive list of safety protocols at each location — could support the new effort.
“It’s great to see my small idea blossom into a larger, more impactful campaign,” said Geisewite.
Geisewite now plans to roll up her original concept, which is supported through a Go Fund Me page, into Heroes & Restaurants, which will fall under the 501 (C)(3) umbrella.
“Heroes & Restaurants is a win-win-win for our heroes, restaurants, and our communities,” said Cornerstone’s West’s Sarah Lester.
One of the program’s earliest participants, Luis Peláez of Papa’s Food Market, was anxious to get involved. “I think the program shows a lot of dedication to the members of our community that put the work in to keep us healthy and protect us on a daily basis.”
Andrea Wakefield, owner of Mrs. Robino’s Restaurant, was also delighted to be called to serve. Robino’s delivered meals last week to the environmental cleaning crew at St. Francis Hospital. “We’re really glad to be a part of this effort. It helps keep our community together by supporting each other,” said Wakefield.
“For me, one of the most rewarding experiences in my life is unfolding right now. For a long time, I felt I’ve wanted to give back in a meaningful way. Feeding the heroes of the pandemic and assisting small businesses that make our community grow and thrive are just really important,” said Shone.
If you would like to donate to the fund or get involved as a recipient of meals, restaurant, or volunteer, visit Heroes & Restaurants on the web or contact April Pagliassotti at email@example.com.