Each week the Democratic Club presents speakers on relevant topics that can further our understanding of issues that affect our community. This week we welcome Rebecca Gershenson-Smith. Rebecca is the Executive Director of CDAIDE. CDAIDE is an area nonprofit that helps local restaurant and hotel workers. These workers are particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy as they lack the resources to adapt to financial setbacks. CDAIDE helps workers impacted by short term income loss by providing critical resources and assistance. Join Rebecca for a look at the precarious nature of hospitality work and how CDAIDE helps these workers during times of economic hardship.
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The Instability of Service Work
A sizable portion of our local economy is driven by tourism. This sector consists of our local restaurants and hotels who rely on steady tourist traffic to support their businesses. When times are good, these businesses can depend on a predictable flow of customers throughout the summer and adapt to the seasonal fluctuations in our economy. However, when the tourist business lags, it is their hourly workers who are the first to suffer the consequences. The results can be a drop in steady income. This can be serious when you are living paycheck to paycheck. When your weekly hours are cut, and your wages are subsequently reduced, you have nothing to fall back on. In an economic environment where the costs of housing and food are on the rise, this puts these workers lives in an even more untenable position.
This is the challenge that CDAIDE helps to address. CDAIDE offers support and assistance to service industry workers. This includes providing financial aid for urgent needs, facilitating access to health care, coordinating available community resources, and offering individual mentoring, plus other services.
About Rebecca Gershenson-Smith
Rebecca brings a wealth of knowledge to her position as CDAIDE Executive Director. Previously, she served as CDAIDE Board President. In addition to work at CDAIDE, she has taught English for many years, most recently at Gonzaga University. Rebecca also has extensive experience in nonprofit development.