It is no secret that business leaders are wired to look for opportunity in every challenge. But ‘challenge’ does not begin to capture the magnitude of what our community, and communities around the globe, are enduring today. All business leaders - corporate and nonprofit - are having their skills and mettle tested. Still, as this crisis unfolds, we are seeing many examples of the creative and nimble ways that our corporate community is working hand in hand with our nonprofits to clear obstacles and support the people most in need in Arlington. Here are just three of the many examples of the power of solutions-oriented partnership and collaboration that are improving lives in Arlington today:
Addressing hunger one restaurant meal at a time. Restaurants accustomed to a steady stream of office workers at lunch time wait for the phone to ring with curbside pickup orders that are few and far between. Many companies are concerned that the restaurants that support their employees won’t be able to weather this crisis, and at the same time are witnessing the mounting food insecurity crisis that has gripped our community. In some cases it is the restaurant itself stepping up to provide meals, like the collaboration between Bayou Bakery and Real Food for Kids or Good Company’s free kids meal program. In others, it’s an unrelated company funding a restaurant to provide meals, like the high-profile investment Amazon has made in Crystal City restaurants, which promises to serve thousands of meals. Some examples are sustained efforts over long periods of time, and others are one-time partnerships, like the recent delivery from local franchise Zoup! to support the residents at Bridges to Independence. All of these efforts provide both food and a much-needed boost to local restaurants.
Providing a safe place to call home during quarantine. Hotels that are usually packed this time of year with spring tourists and business travelers sit empty. At the same time, unsafe social distancing conditions exist in domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters and other group-living arrangements. People need a comfortable and safe place to recover from COVID-19 if they are ill, or an opportunity to remain healthy through better distancing if they are not sick but are living in close quarters. Hotels here and around the country are answering that call to action and providing rooms to those in need.
Better together. These are just a few of the many examples of collaborative solutions being implemented in Arlington. Times like these can bring out both the best and the worst in human nature. But in the end, we know that resiliency is built in to our DNA, and that we will find a path forward. Once this crisis starts to subside we can begin reconstructing our disrupted business ecosystem. As we begin that journey, I hope we’ll all remember the way that we came together to solve problems the only way we know how: through careful collaboration, engaged imagination, and letting empathy for our neighbors lead us to the most thoughtful solutions.