Wednesday, September 22, 2021

CDAIDE volunteers answer the call

Staff Writer | April 10, 2020 1:00 AM

Nonprofit that serves service workers reports increase in weekly referrals

The call went out to help CDAIDE's intake process, and big-hearted volunteers answered.

Many hospitality and service staffs have been cut in the wake of COVID-19 bar and restaurant closures and stay-home orders. CDAIDE, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping those who work in food service and hospitality, immediately began fielding an influx of referrals and requests for help once the pandemic hit.

"CDAIDE has seen our weekly referrals increase by 2,500 percent since COVID-19 began impacting our community," said CDAIDE board president Rebecca Smith. However, Smith declined to disclose the actual number of people being helped.

About 15 individuals outside of the normal volunteer base stepped up to serve as "case managers" to help CDAIDE in its mission to serve those who serve the community. They've been on the phone day and night, listening to heartbreaking stories and networking to rescue their fellow North Idahoans struggling with funding and resource needs.

"With this kind of volume, we could not get help to people very efficiently without the work of so many new volunteers who have stepped up," Smith said. "They learned the ropes quickly and jumped right in.”

One of those volunteers is Charlene Babb, an advanced learning program (ALP) teacher at Sorensen Magnet School of the Arts and Humanities. Babb said she felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness when she had to leave her classroom.

"As teachers, we do not easily let go of our students, and this situation found us having to let go instantaneously and become online teachers," she said. "The transition from classroom to home has been a little difficult and wanting to continue feeling a connection with my students, my family and my community left me at a loss."

Through the guidance of a friend, she was directed to volunteer to help CDAIDE. She was nervous but excited to make her first call.

"I'm a person that likes to get things done, and after hearing the person’s story of hardship, I was so happy and eager to help," Babb said. "I quickly took down all the information needed to pass on to CDAIDE and in a very quick response time, my first care recipient received the help needed. Because it is a local organization whose prime purpose is to help those in need in the hospitality and restaurant business, I was immediately hooked.”

She said what she's learned most at this critical time is "it's not about me."

"It’s really about helping others in any little way you can; just to let someone know that there are people out there that really do care and really do want to help," she said.

Volunteer Diane Wakkinen also felt lost when normal life came to a standstill. She said she felt "a little helpless and desperate to have some 'control' in a time when everything was being taken away from me."

"Acting as an intake volunteer for CDAIDE has given me the opportunity to give some peace and comfort to those who’s lives are in total disarray,” she said. “This has had an added benefit of giving me some peace. My mom always said there’s good to be found in most difficult situations; we just have to look for it."



CDAIDE volunteer Steve Moss takes a call on Wednesday to help a struggling service industry worker. Through referrals from employers and co-workers, CDAIDE works to connect hospitality and restaurant employees with funding and resources to help them through tough times. Weekly referrals have increased 2,500 percent since the outbreak. (Courtesy photo)