TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- The coronavirus pandemic has brought the special events industry to a complete stand-still, leaving catering staff, wedding planners, production crews, DJ’s, florists and many others without work or placed on furlough.
Empower Events Tampa Bay is now stepping in to help the shuttered industry. The all-volunteer initiative has launched an emergency $500 grant program for special events employees, freelancers and subcontractors in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
“There is just no income coming in for a lot of these people,” said Anna Lucia Richardson with Empower Events Tampa Bay. “Our goal is just to help them through this time and hopefully make ends meet until we can start having celebrations again but we don’t know when that will be.”
According to Richardson, her company Anna Lucia Events donated $10,000, along with a $100,000 donation from the Vinik Family Foundation, to kick-start the latest initiative.
Business owners can now nominate up to 10 eligible former employees to each received a $500 grant.
“It’s geared towards helping individuals rather than a business as a whole,” said Richardson. “I will say it is first come first serve as the grant money is available. So, the sooner that you apply, the sooner we can get the grant money out to you. Right now we are looking at a 2-3 week turnaround.”
Empower Events Tampa Bay is also accepting donations through its website.
According to Empower Events Tampa Bay, they have partnered with non-profit The Above and Beyond Foundation to make sure all grants stay in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties and are tax-deductible.
“Stay positive, look ahead, there is going to be a light at the end of this tunnel,” said Richardson. “We don’t know when but I think as a community and as an industry, I think we can come and support to make sure celebrations happen again.”
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