Every year, the Visit Champaign County Foundation hosts Toast to Tourism, celebrating people in the hospitality industry who make our community so outside of ordinary. Due to COVID-19, this year’s event scheduled for May 13, 2020 at the Virginia Theatre has been cancelled.
In lieu of the expenses associated with this annual celebration, the Visit Champaign County Foundation Board, in conjunction with the Visit Champaign County Board, have created a Hospitality Relief Fund to provide direct financial support for individuals who have immediately formerly worked in the greater Champaign County area as housekeepers, caterers, cooks, front desk staff or anywhere in our hotel partner operations.
“While we are disappointed to cancel our annual celebration of the local hospitality industry, I’m grateful that we can target the event expenses toward supporting our hospitality heroes during a challenging time,” states Jayne DeLuce, Secretary of the Visit Champaign County Foundation Board, and President & CEO of Visit Champaign County.
As COVID-19 imposes a significant impact on the vitality of the hospitality industry, hotels worldwide, including in our community, have faced stark declines in occupancy with travel coming to a halt. Locally our hotels are closed or down to skeletal crews, with over 500 lost jobs as a result of lost business.
“Very quickly, we saw a sharp decline in business with the cancellation of major community events,” explains Jesse Hines, General Manager of the Courtyard by Marriott and member of the Visit Champaign County Foundation Board of Directors. “Properties across Champaign County have lost staff or have temporarily closed their doors. Any relief we can provide to our valuable employees is appreciated.”
The Visit Champaign County Foundation Hospitality Relief Fund will provide a $250 cash award to a displaced staff member at each of their 24 Hotel Partners. Nominations will come from the hotel General Managers at each property. Funding is provided through private organizational or individual donations to the Visit Champaign County Foundation lead by efforts from the VCCF and VCC Board members themselves.
Additional donations are encouraged from the community to offer additional financial support to our neighbors, who work on our behalf to welcome visitors from around the world. Donations are currently being accepted through PayPal at visitchampaigncounty.org/hospitalityrelief.
Those businesses who wish to donate gift cards to our displaced hotel employees can send them to Visit Champaign County, ATTN: Hospitality Relief Fund, 17 E. Taylor St., Champaign IL 61820.
For more info, contact Jayne DeLuce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-714-3540.