The Sturbridge MA Restaurant Relief Initiative

The Sturbridge MA Restaurant Relief Initiative

From Chelsea O'Leary

To raise money as a community for the restaurant Industry employees in my hometown who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Sturbridge area is a gem nestled in the heart of central MA, filled with thriving locally owned and operated businesses. These small businesses have cultivated a local community filled with people fiercely dedicated to supporting them. The restaurant/bar industry, in particular, has truly blossomed into a talented and diverse community here, with over 50 locally-owned bars and restaurants spanning a 15 mile stretch from Southbridge through Sturbridge and Union-61. This industry provides jobs for hundreds, if not thousands of hourly/tip-based employees who have rooted themselves and their families within this community.

In light of the new reality we are all living in, the COVID-19 pandemic has virtually halted the restaurant/ bar industry across the globe. Many restaurants are being forced to lay off their employees and close their doors, left only with hopes that our national government will be there to help them weather this storm.

I am beyond proud of our restaurants that remain open for curbside or delivery options and of our community members for continuing to support them at this time. I am now calling for efforts to support the many servers, bartenders, bussers, hosts, cooks, and dishwashers who work at these same businesses but have been laid off with an unknown return to work date.  

My name is Chelsea O’Leary, I have been a member of this local industry for over 13 years. I’ve worked for multiple restaurants in the area over that time and have made lifelong friends with my co-workers and regulars alike. Over this past month, I have had many conversations with the people of this local industry. They are filled with panic and confusion about what the near and distant future holds for them; how will they pay their bills, feed their families, keep their homes and stay safe? 

I am starting a fundraiser to help keep these people and their families afloat during this time of uncertainty. I want to show these hardworking individuals that their community will support them through their time of unemployment. 

Please show your support by making a donation to our cause. This foundation will be open for a finite amount of time with the goal of raising as much money possible while need persists. We hope to give some monetary relief to every qualified applicant depending on how much money we can raise. This will be a 100% non-profit foundation, with all proceeds going to those in need. For applicants who work at restaurants/bars in Sturbridge, Southbridge, Brimfield, Brookfield, Wales or Holland please follow the SMRRI Application link to fill out our application for relief.

Sturbridge by definition means: allay, to put to rest fear, suspicion or doubt. As a community, I would like to see us join together and show one another that we will be diligent and dedicated to taking care of our own.


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