Ron Blitzer is a business guy, so when the Thomas Fire and 1/9 Debris Flow hammered Montecito (and after he tended to the well-being of friends and family), his mind quickly snapped to the economic impact of the disasters. He knew it’d be bad, really bad, especially for his hometown’s 1,500 service workers. Shops and restaurants closed for weeks, and customers stayed away for months. Housekeepers and gardeners lost nearly all their clients overnight. “At some point, these people are going to say, ‘I gotta move,’” he worried.
To keep Montecito’s workforce intact, and to tide over employees until their paychecks started arriving again, Blitzer and others created the 93108 Fund, a nonprofit that takes donations and distributes them to hourly wage earners. So far, it’s dispensed more than $152,000 to 595 workers. The goal, Blitzer said, is to cut $600 checks for everyone who qualifies.
To opt in, employees just have to provide their name, their phone number, and the business or person they work for. Blitzer’s group then calls the business to verify employment and that the worker lost hours because of the fire or flood. Undocumented workers are free to apply. “No Social Security numbers, no 1099s required,” he explained.
The gratitude goes both ways, said Blitzer. The fund is a way for Montecito residents to recognize and help their town’s economic lifeblood. “There’s a community within our community, and they’re vital to our survival.” And it shows employees that their customers are truly there for them. “There are no words to express how grateful I am for your thoughtfulness and support,” said Shawne Mitchell, who recently received her $250 check. “Bless you, your team, and all your donors.”
To donate to the 93108 Fund, visit 93108fund.org.