Midtown ATL Cares: Acts of Compassion During COVID-19
During these uncertain times, residents in Midtown are stepping up to help each other like never before.
Baraonda Ristorante and Bar served free pizza to first responders last week.
BY ELLIE HENSLEY
The hustle and grind of daily life can sometimes cause people to think too little of how their actions affect others. But when hit with a crisis, many Atlantans rise up and take care of each other in incredible and humbling ways.
At publication, cases of coronavirus in Georgia had surpassed 5,000, with numbers rising by the day. Atlanta is in lockdown mode, with a stay-at-home order in place, small businesses facing insolvency, many people facing financial hardship and widespread distress over an unseen enemy.
And still, somehow, people are finding ways to help each other like never before.
Restaurants have offered free meals to out-of-work service industry workers and first responders, a condo community has created message boards to connect people who need help and costume shop employees from a local theater are making face masks for medical workers.
While our team remains on the job to support essential city services like public safety, maintenance and infrastructure, we are excited to look up from our work lately and learn of acts of kindness and solidarity happening all around Midtown and our City. Here are a few:
Credit: Dan Armstrong
Midtown Cheers for Hospital Workers
Residents in Midtown adhering to the stay-at-home order found a way to show support for essential health-care workers at Emory University Midtown Hospital and other institutions by cheering from their balconies, a movement that started in mid-March in Europe. Applause, cowbells, inspiring songs like “Stand by Me” and other sounds of encouragement can be heard across the district for about five minutes every evening at 8pm in a show of community support that has made international headlines. Fire trucks and other first responders have shown their appreciation with caravans down Peachtree, and Georgia Tech joined in this week by blowing its steam whistle, which can be heard from miles away.
Watch a video of the cheering here:
Free Food and Caffeine for ATL Heroes
Atlanta is currently under a stay-at-home order for all non-essential workers in an attempt to flatten the curve. But EMTs, firefighters and other first responders are still hard at work on a daily basis trying to keep people safe. Several restaurants and coffee shops in Midtown are showing their gratitude by offering free items to those on duty, including Baraonda Ristorante and Bar, which served free curbside pizza to a fire department, police officers and EMTs on March 27.
Dancing Goats Coffee is also supplying free coffee to first responders. Beginning April 3, 5Church Atlanta will begin donating meals to public service workers, as well as those who have lost their jobs, every Tuesday and Friday from 12-3 p.m. 26 Thai has been providing meals to Emory University Hospital Midtown, and has started collecting donations from those who order to be able to serve even more meals to workers.
Alliance Theatre Costume Shop Sews Medical Masks
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to shortages nationwide in the supply of protective face masks at hospitals. So when Midtown’s Alliance Theatre closed to the public, the artists in its costume shop turned their attention to sewing masks for Georgia hospitals. The theatre’s 45-person staff is working from home and plans to sew as many masks as they can.
Alliance Theatre also has launched a variety of digital resources for families, teachers, youth, teens and adults to support learning and entertainment while people are sheltering in place. Check out their digital offerings here. Many other arts and cultural partners are doing the same. View our virtual events calendar for ideas on activities you can do from your couch.
Source: Cafe Intermezzo's Facebook
Cafe Intermezzo Serves To-Go Meals To Restaurant Industry Workers
When beloved Midtown eatery Cafe Intermezzo was forced to temporarily close as a result of the pandemic, it gave away all its food to out-of-work service industry employees, health-care workers and people experiencing homelessness in an effort to help ease their struggles and eliminate food waste. About 4,000 to-go meals were served over the course of two days, and the restaurant also gave out more than 1,000 slices of cakes and tortes. Atlanta Paper supplied to-go food containers and U.S. Foods contributed a pallet of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“All of us truly enjoyed the opportunity to commiserate with our fellow hospitality workers and share the blessing of offering food and love to so many hurting souls,” said Cafe Intermezzo Founder-Owner Brian Olson in an email. “Everyone is hurting through this in so many ways, and everyone needs the ‘foods’ of nutrition and love.”
After remaining closed for several days, Cafe Intermezzo reopened for curbside pickup from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. See their website for details.
See our updated restaurant directory for more than 70 neighborhood eateries offering takeout and delivery options, as well as links to their online ordering portals. Our team has been in communication daily with contacts at Midtown restaurants and retailers to see how we can help. Since we launched the take-out, delivery restaurant directory info in mid-March, it has become the most-visited page on our website.
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer Continues to Serve Those Most in Need
One of Midtown’s most active members in the faith community, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, has served meals to the homeless since 1982. Last October, it marked a major milestone by serving its two-millionth meal. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Redeemer is still serving food to those experiencing food insecurity on a to-go basis outside its usual location at 4th Street, with health and safety protocols and social distancing strategies in place. Before the pandemic, the food ministry was serving between 80-100 people per day. But the trend is increasing, with volunteers serving as many as 215 people per day recently due to other food ministries suspending operations.
Others are reaching out to lend a hand at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer’s Food Ministry. In the past week, Hosea Help the Hungry and Woodstock Baptist have made large donations. But most of the food the Redeemer serves is “rescued” from business cafeterias, banquets and other special events in Atlanta. As those are closed and canceled, the church needs support more than ever. Consider helping out here. See our website here for other volunteer/support opportunities for Midtown organizations.
A Potentially Life Saving Gift
The American Red Cross of Georgia is facing a severe blood shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Blood drives across the country are being canceled, but the Midtown Blood Donation Center is still open and keeping the donation process safe for employees and staffers. Through the center, a pint of blood was readily available for Red Cross of Northeast Georgia disaster program manager Mike Riemann when he needed it due to some health issues.
“Honestly, I felt guilty,” Riemann said. “In my mind, blood was always for people in accidents or having surgery – not something I’d need. I was reminded that it’s not just a job we do at the Red Cross, it’s something so profound, where men and women save lives in the course of their daily work.”
Showing A Little Neighborly Love
Park Central Condo sprung into action after the stay-at-home order by setting up a Care Team through a closed Facebook Group so its residents can request and offer each other help via a shared Google Drive doc or a phone number. One resident requested help walking her dog, another asked if others had any extra canned goods so they could avoid a trip to the grocery store and the community also uses the group to post announcements from the city and host virtual Cocktails and Coffee Hour to stay connected.
About 200 members of the 400-unit building have joined so far.
“People have quickly jumped into the Facebook group,” said Scott Patterson, a member of the community Care team, who got the idea to start the Facebook group from a friend who started one in Candler Park. “It’s giving everyone the opportunity to do something that helps each other. It’s just about a sense of community.”
Patterson is open to creating a wider group of network of resident volunteers in Midtown. For more information, you can email him here.
Residents of buildings throughout the district also are sharing inspiring and sometimes funny messages by displaying artwork in street-facing windows. Colony Square has started the “See a Heart, Share a Heart” campaign to encourage residents and business owners to design their own hearts and share them in their windows online. A downloadable heart printout can be found here. If you enjoy a walk outside (while practicing social distancing, of course), make sure to look up to see if you can spot some of these signs!
Keep your head up, Midtown. Together we will come back stronger than ever. Meanwhile, we invite you to look around and count the ways you see people helping each other.
If you’re looking for a way to lend a hand from afar, we made a list of opportunities to contribute to those in need here, including the hospitality industry, artists and other groups.