The community in Holyoke, Colorado has raised over $90,000 to help local businesses affected by the shutdown.
- The ‘Help Holyoke’ campaign was started in late March.
- The community raised enough money to help every local business affected by the pandemic.
- Brenda Hernandez Ramirez: “We were overwhelmed with emotion”.
The pandemic forced small businesses to struggle like never before.
COVID-19 has left business owners feeling desperate and hopeless. Cathy Free, a writer for the Washington Post, tells the story of Brenda Hernandez Ramirez who thought that following the closures in March, she would have to shut down her family’s small-town restaurant for good. Ramirez had explained that with bills piling up and no source of income, ‘we weren’t prepared for the challenges that COVID-19 brought’.
In late March, the Help Holyoke campaign was started.
Upon hearing that the ‘Help Holyoke’ fund had been set up to help local businesses in the town, business owners like Ramirez felt grateful, thinking that they would receive a few hundred dollars worth of financial help. Unsurprisingly, when Ramirez received a check for over $2,000 two months later, she was beyond grateful:
We were overwhelmed with emotion […] Feeling our community’s support during the pandemic gave us the ambition to keep on going. I’m beyond thankful.
How did the campaign raise enough to help every business in Holyoke?
Tom Bennett, president of the town’s First Pioneer National Bank, came up with the idea for the Help Holyoke fund. As people had received stimulus checks worth $1,200, Bennett wondered whether those who did not need the money would be willing to donate them. Subsequently, he contacted Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Director Holly Ferguson, Phillips Country Economic Development Director Trisha Herman, and publisher of the Holyoke Enterprise Brenda Brandt to discuss his idea. They quickly developed a plan and set about collecting donations for the local businesses.
I kind of looked at my husband and both of us have our jobs. Let’s donate our stimulus checks.
Even those who did not receive stimulus checks helped by pitching in.
Those who were not eligible for stimulus checks did everything they could to help their community. Chamber director Ferguson explained that ‘some gave $10, some gave $100 and little kids came to my office to empty their piggy banks’. Every little bit helps and it is thanks to this and the compassion of the entire community that Help Holyoke managed to raise $93,592.