From the early stages of the stay-at-home mandates that were implemented across the country, tech companies have come to the aid of businesses, healthcare workers, emergency responders to help them effectively manage during this crisis. It’s an unprecedented time, and it requires unprecedented response from the tech community that has the tools to help overcome the situation.
“It’s been great to see so many tech companies step up in recent weeks, and I’m sure more will as time goes on. This crisis came on quickly and took many companies by surprise. Many weren’t prepared for the changes to their business,” Navisite CEO Mark Clayman told me. “I think the first priority for many has been doing what they can to support their employees, customers and partners. We’ve been in close contact with many of our customers that have experienced fairly acute pain from this and we’re working with them to keep their operations going regardless of the situation.”
While Navisite itself has had to adapt to the current situation, it was already supporting a global workforce with many remote workers and had the infrastructure in place to scale to accommodate the expanded need. At the same time, with its managed cloud services, Navisite is helping its customers adapt as they adjust to prioritize supporting remote workers, improving security, and reducing costs.
“We’ve helped several customers quickly and securely enable a remote workforce with our virtual desktop infrastructure services and, for others, we’re lending our resources to keep projects moving along until their businesses stabilize,” Clayman added. “While it’s a small part, we realize that the services we provide are many times the backbone of keeping organizations running—and we’re ensuring that we’re there for our customers to make sure that continues, regardless of what they are experiencing.”
Beyond that, though, the company realizes there are many workers who are facing significant challenges as a result of the pandemic – some due to an increase in demand, others because of a major drop-off in sales. Healthcare workers, for instance, are on the front lines of the battle, working in an already overburdened healthcare system. On the other hand, the restaurant industry is suffering and workers are being laid off of furloughed in an effort to keep businesses afloat.
Navisite, for its part, is taking its COVID-19 support efforts beyond its customer base and is partnering with a new startup to support both healthcare and restaurant workers. The company is hosting a benefit concert tonight – Friday, April 24 at 5:00pm EDT – featuring Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls. Proceeds from the event will benefit Off Their Plate, a relief organization that is providing aid to healthcare and restaurant industries.
Off Their Plate, founded in March by medical student Natalie Guo and her partners, Boston chefs Tracy Chang and Ken Oringer, is delivering filling, nutritional meals to healthcare workers in several cities, helping keep them nourished as they experience peak demand. At the same time, it is ensuring many restaurant workers in these cities have regular shifts to support their income. Many restaurants Off Their Plate is working with have re-hired previously laid off staff to support the initiative.
Guo came up with the concept after her med school rotation was suspended and she kept seeing more and more restaurants closing or laying off employees due to lack of demand.
“I realized we could create something that would provide income continuity for a portion of the millions of impacted workers, while also providing meal support for our overworked, frontline healthcare workers,” Guo told me. “I was inspired to build a model that would enable donations to touch lives in our impacted communities twice, and saw an opportunity to be the conduit.”
Guo’s goal is to build relationships with healthcare facilities and restaurants to ensure income continuity and access to good food for as long as this pandemic requires. The organization is focusing efforts specifically to aid those most in need, while following appropriate COVID-19 health and safety guidelines:
- Healthcare staff in high COVID-19 volume centers, food deserts, low-resource centers, and those staying in temporary housing to avoid exposing their own families.
- Restaurant partners that are small operators, care about giving their workers generous wages, and employ staff that may not qualify for unemployment benefits.
Guo launched Off Their Plate in Boston with Chang and Oringer, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital as it inaugural healthcare partner. Since then, the organization has quickly spread to support more than 100 hospitals in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. With a team of more than 100 volunteers, who dedicate their time and effort to the relief effort while still maintaining their other daily jobs or schooling, Off Their Plate has already raised enough to provide 300,000 meals to hospital workers in these cities. The $3 million currently raised is providing much needed economic relief to restaurant workers preparing those meals.
“COVID-19 has impacted everyone, and we wanted to find a way to give back to those working on the frontlines and are right there in the communities that we live in,” said Clayman. “Off Their Plate was a perfect fit. The work they are doing to support both the healthcare and restaurant communities is incredibly important and we wanted to help.”
He says the experience working with an organization like Off Their Plate has been a great one for Navisite, and one that underscores the companies company’s belief in giving back to the community.
“At a time when everyone is social distancing and where the impact of COVID-19 has been so widespread, we’re hoping to connect people and lift their spirits a little. We felt there was no better way to do this than to sponsor a benefit concert that would bring people together, virtually, and raise funds for Off Their Plate,” he added.
As for Guo, naturally, she is grateful to Navisite for the support and partnership that is not only helping support her program, but is also bringing an entertainment opportunity to the public and giving them an opportunity to support healthcare and restaurant workers from coast to coast.
Registration is required to see tonight’s concert with Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls at 5:00pm EDT, and 100% of any donations will go to support Off Their Plate.
“We are so grateful to Navisite for this partnership. They reached out with this idea and we’re excited to support our frontline communities while also providing a fun and entertaining experience!” she said.
Register for the concert or donate to Off Their Plate. If you missed the concert, or just want to support Off Their Plate, Guo and her team are grateful for any level of support you are able to donate.
Edited by Erik Linask