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Local News: RIHA Emergency Funds Available to Ease Hardships

Employee relief website offers easy access to members

From Staff Reports

The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) reminds members that its Employee Relief Fund has money available for RIHA member employees who are currently facing financial hardships. The fund, administered through the RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, has more than 25 years of trusted organization management.

Examples of hardship include recent injury, illness, death of an immediate family member, disaster (flood, fire, storm, etc.) or other form of crisis. Employees can apply for a one-time financial assistance grant of up to $1,000 to help cover basic need expenses such as rent/mortgage, household utilities, groceries, car payments or transportation costs, child care or medical bills/insurance.

Heather Singleton, Chief Operating Officer, RIHA/RIHEF, said, “One of the positive things to come from the coronavirus pandemic was the ability to create a fund for hospitality workers who were laid off and struggled with everyday expenses. Once the industry was able to get back to work, we extended this fund for unexpected hardship.”

RIHA member employers are urged to share the information about the fund among their employees and employers should know it is available for their accessing as well, Singleton said. She shared the range of aid and the range of those who have had access to the funds:

• A restaurant owner was hit by a car crossing the street on her way to work that resulted in a broken eye socket, a cracked vertebra, cracked ribs, a broken sternum, severe brain swelling and major surgeries. At the same time, her husband was receiving chemotherapy at Dana-Farber and, later, radiation at Rhode Island Hospital. They have three young children, all on the autism spectrum.
• A restaurant employee awoke to an electrical fire in his home and lost everything.
• A hotel employee’s landlord fell behind on mortgage payments and the house isn’t up to code for tenants. The funds included a security deposit and the first month’s rent for a new apartment.
• A hotel employee’s daughter had a medical emergency.
• A restaurant employee was walking with his dog and was hit by a car, which resulted in broken bones. He can’t return to work until he is healed.

“Emergencies with financial impact can happen to any of us. Large or small,” Singleton said. “I encourage anyone with a need to see how we can help.”

The RI Hospitality Employee Relief Fund was created in honor of RIHA’s late longtime Board Member Alfred “Al” A. Zannella. He was the Executive Vice President of Mancini Beverage and long active with the association. In 2018, he was named as RIHA’s Man of the Year at the Stars of the Industry awards. Zannella was a dedicated member of the hospitality community, always willing to lend a hand and help his industry thrive. “This fund was created in his honor as a way to carry on the legacy of his generosity,” said Singleton.

Help is available via The fund also receives contributions at the same website address.



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