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Business leaders raising funds for hospitality workers

By Staff | Mar 18, 2020

Local businesses will be selling these shirts to raise money for local workers affected by the expected economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. PHOTO PROVIDED

With the beach season potentially facing a premature slowdown due a stock market in decline, along with national and local state of emergencies enacted due to the coronavirus pandemic, a group of local business leaders are uniting to help workers who could be facing hardships due to the closing of some businesses and a reduction in hours.

Janeen Paulauskis, of Barefoot Event Group, has helped form a drive to purchase gift cards for affected workers by selling #WeAreFMB shirts.

Paulauskis said the shirts will be sold for $15 at local businesses. All of the profits will go towards purchasing gift cards for groceries. The funds will be managed by the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation with the support of a local CPA who will be donating his services.

Paulauskis said that while the town had a good weekend despite the cancellation of the shrimp festival, “we want to keep our businesses going.” Business was quieter on Monday after a weekend in which two more people in Lee County tested positive for coronavirus and one died. In addition, the town council suspended all special permits which affected a number of businesses and closed some.

“We want to make sure our people, our workers and our Islander friends are taken care of,” Paulauskis said. She said the goal is to have $50 gift cards available to affected workers within a week’s time.

Among the businesses which have announced they will be participating are: Doc Ford’s, Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining, The Islander, Peter’s Time Out, Local Color, Pier Peddler and One Flight Up. Krusty Pete’s will be helping to make the shirts. Those looking to participate or get assistance should email info@barefooteventgroup.com, Janeen@barefooteventgroup.com or visit www.fortmyersbeachcf.com.

“Many of our friends and family are affected by this crisis,” Paulauskis said. “Incomes will be affected.”

Paulauskis has dealt with her own events being postponed such as the Chicago tribute show she helped organize with the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts which was supposed to take place at Fish-Tale Marina March 19 but has been moved to May 13. “As an event planner for 15 years it’s upsetting to see any business suffering,” Paulauskis said.

“I worry about our community. I worry about how everybody else will be affected.”