Charity Profile: CORE
Today, the minimum wage in some U.S. states is as low as $5.15 an hour, and it’s often hospitality employees whose salaries dwindle among the lowest. Such slim earnings cannot financially sustain families, especially during times of crisis, and in 2004, a group of restaurant operators and suppliers put their heads together to find a way to help. The result was Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE). “From that discussion was born the vision to create a charitable organization to support the children of food and beverage employees navigating life-altering circumstances or conditions, helping them achieve their dreams in the midst of their unique journeys,” says Lauren LaViola, the organization’s executive director. CORE steps up to support families during a myriad of situations that include medical diagnoses, injuries or accidents, the death of immediate family members, even natural disasters—events during which a minimum-wage salary just won’t cut it.
“When CORE was founded, the grants were more experiential and child-condition focused,” says LaViola. “By this we mean that CORE sent a lot of children and their families on vacations and helped to fund a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a child navigating a life-altering circumstance or condition.”
As CORE has grown, so has their mission, and they now offer support to children whose parents are facing tough times that impact an entire family. To date, the organization has raised over $3 million, which has helped families with expenses such as utility bills, groceries, childcare costs, rent or mortgages, hospital and funereal expenses, as well as therapy sessions and equipment. Donations also assist with the nonprofit’s Bear-a-factor Program, which aims to provide every CORE child with their own special teddy bear. “Since CORE’s inception, we have granted support to over 400 families,” LaViola says of the organization’s work thus far in 35 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. “212 of those were supported in 2017 alone.”
As its mission has expanded, so had the need for CORE’s services. In 2017, the nonprofit partnered with Monin to provide aid to families of restaurant industry workers impacted by the hurricanes in Florida and Texas. “As industry employees become aware of CORE and our services, the applications continue to come in,” LaViola says. “When most food and beverage service employees are navigating tough times like this, they tend to miss a lot of work. When they aren’t working they aren’t getting paid seeing as most of their positions are hourly and not salary.”
As a 2018 Negroni Week Charity Partner, CORE hopes to gain visibility and reach as many potential applicants and possible. “Being a part of Negroni Week not only raises funds for CORE, but helps to spread awareness about the organization and our mission to those we are here to support: service industry employees,” LaViola says. “We hope to have supported a family in each of the 50 states by 2020.”
Story by Emma Mannheimer // Photo by Ernie Sapiro Photography