Get Shift Done initiative launches in Northwest Arkansas, offering aid to displaced hospitality workers

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,303 views 

The Northwest Arkansas Council and Bentonville-based Pure Charity announced Monday (Aug. 3) a partnership with Get Shift Done to bring the employment initiative to Northwest Arkansas.

The program launched in North Texas earlier this year in the wake of furloughs and layoffs related to COVID-19. Get Shift Done employs displaced hourly workers within the hospitality industry to work shifts for nonprofits in the region focused on hunger relief. In Northwest Arkansas, they include The Pack Shack, Fayetteville Roots, Seeds That Feed and The Salvation Army Northwest Arkansas Area Command.

With jobless claims spiking to record levels, the Get Shift Done concept was crafted to help people work to earn a basic income. Within days of the initial launch, other cities, municipalities and countries contacted the organization to replicate the model. There are now 11 throughout the U.S. A central Arkansas chapter launched in April.

“Countless hospitality industry workers have found themselves jobless, furloughed or facing drastically reduced work hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the status of unemployment benefits that are expiring is uncertain,” said Jeannette Balleza Collins, entrepreneurial development director of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “Even while volunteers are returning slowly to nonprofits, food insecurity continues to grow. This program connects displaced workers who are highly skilled and efficient in food service to critical work that feeds neighbors in need.”

Workers receive $15 an hour for efforts feeding food-insecure community members in Northwest Arkansas. Shiftsmart technology allows the initiative to register workers for nonprofit shifts and to manage the onboarding, matching, scheduling, dispatching and routing of workers to perform shifts.

“I was inspired by the Get Shift Done initiative when it launched in North Texas,” said Bret Raymond, co-founder and CEO of The Pack Shack. “I thought helping restaurant workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis get paid for hours worked at local hunger relief nonprofits was a tremendous match, especially since nonprofits were seeing a dramatic drop in volunteer hours. I believe that giving people meaningful work to do reinforces their worth and dignity as humans, and I was — and remain — very excited about Get Shift Done and am hopeful for its potential.”

Since its launch in March, Get Shift Done has packed, served or delivered more than 30 million meals and provided 250,000 hours to nearly 100 nonprofits.

The Walmart Foundation, Walton Family Foundation and Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation support the Get Shift Done program in Northwest Arkansas.