Safety, Kindness, Support
Casey Williams, Executive Director, Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce
Who knew what was in store for us in 2020? We might have imagined a hurricane, a drought, space aliens … just about anything but the COVID-19 Pandemic. COVID-19 brought us unimaginable, rapid fire changes, sometimes daily. Even now, we are making decisions as information becomes available and the future is still uncertain. While for our business community the rollercoaster of COVID-19 has been particularly impactful, some things remain the same. Small business is the heartbeat of our community and our quality of life. Our businesses lift up our community through their support of sports teams, our schools, our nonprofits, the arts, and so much more.
The Eastern Shore community has come together during all of this to support our businesses by curbside pickup, purchasing gift cards, and shopping local, and I thank you for that. Support Small Eastern Shore is an Eastern Shore Chamber initiative that is designed to help our small business community and nonprofits as they navigate this ever-changing environment. Join the Support Small Eastern Shore Facebook Group so you can see and share specials, promotions, schedules, deals, and all things small business.
We have all learned new things, figured out new ways to accomplish our work, and embraced new technology so we can stay in touch with one another. Our community has shown that we are nimble, capable, compassionate, brave, and determined. We have all made sacrifices. We have all learned that slowing down isn’t all that bad. We have missed seeing our friends and families. We have shared heartache and joy. I know I am blessed every single day to live and work in this community. We will be stronger when we get to the other side, so until then, stay safe, be kind and help one another.
Showing Our Seniors We Care
Ari Tillman, Nix Center Manager, City of Fairhope, and Andy Luedecke of Synergy Home Care
The Nix Center serves as the Senior Center for the Eastern Shore located in Fairhope. “With over 4,000 members we are a support system to our senior community” says Ari Tillman, Senior Center Manager of Fairhope. “At the beginning of the virus we had to shut down the Nix Center, and it has been up to us to stay in touch with our seniors and let them know that we are there for them. We started a program called Caring Connection, where we provide outreach by calling 70 to 80 seniors weekly making sure they are okay and seeing if they need anything.” Many don’t have family nearby and they just need someone to talk to. “Neighborhood Bridges allows us to also connect seniors with citizens able to meet those needs by bridging kindness in our community,” says Ari. The online platform offers residents an easy opportunity to fill unmet needs with the kindness that abounds in the community. Needs are posted by trusted local advocates and published at neighborhoodbridges.org/community/fairhope-al. Andy Luedecke of Synergy Home Care has been a major sponsor and advocate of the Nix Center. “He is our superman sponsor,” says Ari, “From playing billiards to calling out bingo, he has been a source of giving and commitment to our seniors.” Andy and Synergy also donated over 2,000 bottles of water and 1,000 masks to the staff, volunteers and seniors.
Signs of HOPE
“About a month into COVID-19, our team was determined to creatively put care into action and bring positivity and hope to others,” says Kelsey Rush, VP and Marketing Director of Bryant Bank. “That’s when Signs of HOPE was born. We designed five different, but vibrant, yard signs and distributed them among Bryant Bank’s markets. The signs were available for free to our customers and our community members with the hope that they would place them in their yards or at their business to help put smiles on the faces of friends and neighbors! Baldwin County was a key area for promotion throughout the state. We are hopeful for a bright future for the state of Alabama, our businesses, communities and moving forward as Alabama Strong!”
Bryant Bank was also quick to respond when relief efforts were needed in Baldwin County. The Bryant Bank Team traveled from all across Alabama to Baldwin County and immediately began helping out the eastern shore community recover after the hurricane hit.
Doug and Brie Kerr are not only an amazing husband and wife team, but they are also the proud owners of Dragonfly Foodbar in Fairhope which celebrates its 10th birthday this September. What’s more, a new location, the Dragonfly Tavern will open its doors in Daphne this fall.
Doug and Brie have spent time giving back during the last few months, staying connected with the Eastern Shore community. “It was great to be a part of helping the frontline workers during the early part of the COVID crisis. We donated Dragonfly taco meals to the triage team at Thomas Hospital. Paula Walker at the Fairhope Police Department was so gracious to work with! It was our pleasure to take meals to them as well and say thank you to those officers keeping our area safe,” says Doug. Ongoing contributions include Angel Ride, The Lighthouse, the Bald Eagle Bash, and their involvement in 3 Circle Church with AIM and Rudy’s Hands in Costa Rica. “The future is bright! We are looking forward to opening Dragonfly Tavern and being a part of the Daphne community.” Next stop may be a food truck for the homeless or low-income areas. “We have always wanted to feed people good food regardless of their ability to pay. Let our blessings bless others.”
Doug and Brie also gave back to their community after Hurricane Sally hit. For several days following the storm, the couple offered free meals to frontline workers that were restoring power and other utilities to the Eastern Shore community,
Meals and More Meals
Chicken Salad Chick
Local Chicken Salad Chick Owner Misty Whitehead has donated more than 3,400 meals to first responders, hospitals, cancer centers, and food pantries during the pandemic. “In times of uncertainty, it’s important for communities to band together and lend a helping hand to those in need and we wanted to make sure we did our part,” Misty says. She opened her first Chicken Salad Chick in Mobile Hillcrest in 2013 and has since opened two additional restaurants in the Mobile Bay area, one near the University of South Alabama and the other in Daphne. In late August, Misty and her husband, Peter, opened a location in Gulf Shores.