Union Street Fire: Employee Relief
a fire broke out
on Union Street in our small college town of Athens, Ohio. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.
Unfortunately, the businesses on the affected block - The Union, Jackie O's, Uptown Dog, Kismet, Smoke Zone Smoke Shop, Bobcat Rentals and Jack Neal Floral - suffered considerable damage. At this time, some are reporting a near-complete loss, others extensive water and smoke damage, but all likely will need to be closed for some time as repairs are made.
Our goal is to raise as much money as possible to help the employees of these businesses mitigate their lost wages while repairs are made. No household is immune to the rising costs of winter and the holiday season. These folks, many with families, have been put in their current situation through no fault of thier own.
Our plan is to divide any raised funds equitably among those employees out of work due to this tragic event.
Hopefully, with the unbelievable power of the Athens and Ohio University communities the day's events will be soon seen as an opportunity to bring us all closer together through the love, support, and goodwill we know our community is capable of.
It has been a difficult three weeks for our Union Street neighbors, but it seems each day brings another act of kindness and progress toward our fellow Athenians and their businesses getting back on their feet.
This week is particularly special for us - and all of you - as we started disbursing the first round of relief checks to the affected employees on Monday. I know each of them would want me to pass along their sincere gratitude for what each of you did to support them and this community through this difficult time. Because of you, we were able to disburse over $45,000 to nearly 70 people at a time when they need it most. Truly amazing.
A BIG thank you is owed to People's Bank for not only offering to open the account needed to manage these funds, but also taking the time and resources to issue individual cashier's checks for each recipient, free of charge. Another note of thanks to Zach Traxler of Traxler Tees (you may have seen and purchased one of his terrific "UnionStreetStrong" tee shirts recently). Zach created a website and online application to streamline the application process for affected employees. This made their - and our - lives a lot easier and helped get money into deserving hands as quickly as possible.
And finally, I'd like to thank you. This campaign has proven that the Athens community is a powerful and generous force. It isn't tied to our favorite bar, or a particular street, or county lines. It's tied to each of you - the people who make up its parts. We can move away and still carry a part of Athens with us, and wherever we go, we can know that this community is right there, ready to help when we need it most.
Thank you for being a part of this community. Without you, Athens wouldn't be the place we all love to call home.
I want to thank the community for its patience as we took the necessary steps this week to establish an equitable, sustainable, and transparent disbursement plan. After getting approval from each affected business owner, we would like to publicize that disbursement plan today.
The funds will be deposited directly into a community bank account, which People's Bank has opened free of charge. Pete Shooner, Art Oestrike (Jackie O's owner), and Sara Marrs-Maxfield (Athens County Economic Development Council executive director) will be signed onto the account as fund administrators, volunteering their personal time as private citizens. Funds cannot be withdrawn without signatures of two out of the three administrators.
Anyone employed by Jackie O's, The Union, Smoke Zone Smoke Shop, Kismet, Jack Neal Floral, Uptown Dog, or Bobcat Rentals as of Nov. 16 who has lost wages as a direct result of the fire will be eligible to apply for relief funds.
The amount each individual eligible applicant receives will be directly proportional to his or her loss as compared to the total loss of all applicants. To calculate that percentage, we will use the number of work hours lost. Here is a simple example for illustration:
Prior to the fire, Joe worked an average of 20 hours per week, Dave 30 per week, and Suzy 50 per week. The total loss among the group is 100 hours per week. Joe represents 20% of the loss, Dave 30%, and Suzy 50%. For a disbursement of $800, Joe would receive $160 (20% of $800), Dave $240 (30%), and Suzy $400 (50%).
A formal document that includes the full details of the plan is available to anyone who is interested. Please message me, and I will happily furnish you with a copy.
The first application deadline will be set soon and details on the application process will be directly disseminated to all eligible employees.
We and the affected employers have gone to great lengths to create what we believe to be a fair and equitable disbursement plan. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to message me.
And now, I would like to give a huge thanks to all who have and will volunteer their time to ensure these funds get to those who need it as quickly and as fairly as possible. This has been a true community effort.
Now let's keep it rolling! Please share whenever and wherever you can!
Too much good news this morning to cram into one update. The beer started flowing at Jackie O's brewpub last night for the first time since the fire, the strong Ohio craft beer community is organizing more events than we can track across the state to benefit those affected, and YOU - the members of this wonderful community - have donated nearly $35,000 to help our neighbors who are out of work!
The generosity of the worldwide Athens family cannot be overstated. The countless acts of goodwill we've seen over the last four days are a real manifestation of that hard-to-describe feeling anyone who has lived in Athens knows well. I've heard people say for years that there's "something special" about this place. The sum total of every favor, every donation, and every act of community support this week is that "something special."
I'm proud of our community today - and always will be.
In campaign news, we're meeting with the affected business owners tonight to present the disbursement plan, moving one more important step closer to getting those affected what they need.
Thank you all for your continued support. Keep it coming! Donations will be accepted through the holiday season, at least, so please share, share, share!
We have just left an emotionally difficult, yet sincerely optimistic, community meeting at Arts West. The Athens community is incredibly resilient. There is a lot of wonderful work being done to assist those affected, and it sounds like there are some great events in the works, too.
We will be making public the specific plan for these funds once we have coordinated with all affected employers and finalized the details. Thank you for your patience as we work to ensure the highest level of equity.
Finally, it is with great pride and respect of the Athens community, near and far, that I raise our goal to $40,000! I trust in the boundless generosity of our community and cannot wait to raise the goal again!
Athens' Pete Shooner has started a relief campaign that Avatar's Sun Creations will be hosting benefits for after the new year's. We are currently looking for a venue large enough to support the event: 2 day Acoustic Music & Arts Festival. We hope to collaborate with other artists, musicians and vendors in the area to keep a local soul to the event, and plan on advertising in the surrounding areas for outside support as well. Many artists and performers are compassionate toward the effected's plight, as The Union Bar & Grill and Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, were a home away from home while performing in Athens, and the shopping areas in the area will be surely missed. Let us know who you'd like to see at this event: Ho-Down, Hootenanny Music & Arts Fest: Union St Employee Relief Effort Ansieau J Teamer firstname.lastname@example.org 937,414,4235
J. Gumbo's in Baltimore, OH will be donating $2 for every Jackie O's beer, $5 from every bottle of Brothers Drake mead and $1 from any Ohio Craft beer, Brother Drake Mead (glass), or dessert purchased between 11.19.14 and 11.23.14 to the Employee Relief Fund.
The Reserve at the Falls apartments at University Estates is taking donations from out residents and the owners will match dollar-for-dollar.
At World of Beer - Easton, We will be donating $1 for every Jackie O's draft beer purchased this week to help the many displaced workers from Sunday's fire in Athens. Starts Tuesday 11/18 through Sunday 11/23.
Will, thank you! Such a generous donation from the Student Senate would be truly wonderful. We have no firm end date for this campaign, and it will be still be active in 8 days. If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact me directly. Thank you again for your efforts!
I'm going to see if we can make a $1,000 donation through the student senate to this fund, but we wont be able to put it to a vote until next Wednesday, will this gofundme campaign still be up in 8 days?
I'm the regional manager of Smoke Zone Smoke Shop and I just want to let you know how grateful myself and my employees are for your efforts. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need anything (740) 818-5869 The people of Athens are sincerely amazing, Jac Cooper.
Haley, we would like to sincerely apologize to the Uptown Dog family for not including them in the initial campaign description. We were using the information available at the time and only found out about the Dog's damage tonight at the community meeting at Arts West. There, we were able to meet the owner - and many caring Athenians - and are working on a plan to ensure all affected employees of Union St. businesses receive the help they need. We have added the Uptown Dog to the campaign description and will be coordinating with the owner going forward. Thank you for your diligence. With the help of this wonderful community, we can make these weeks less devastating to all affected.
I'm sad to see the Uptown Dog not on this list of affected businesses. They're also going to be closed for some time as the back of their building was destroyed. 5 student employees and 4 full timers aren't going to be able to work there for a long time while it gets rebuilt. It's a family run business just like many others affected, and they need help just like the others. Considering the goal has been pushed up to $20,000 already, would it not be a stretch to include another business that needs assistance as well? It just doesn't seem right to exclude anyone that suffered from the fire.
Sarah, we are currently coordinating with the affected employers to determine those numbers. We will be sure to keep everyone posted as the details develop. Thank you!
Hi Pete, Do we have a count for how many employees have been effected by the fire?
Just fyi the sundry has been gone for a few years now, in its place is bobcat rentals.