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Hawaii small businesses head to GoFundMe to help employees displaced by Maui fire

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Dive Brief:

  • Several small businesses in Hawaii have launched crowdfunding campaigns to assist their workers who lost homes and jobs to the Maui fires, according to local media reports.
  • Papa’aina Restaurant in Lahaina said on social media and a GoFundMe page that its facility was destroyed, and most workers lost their homes as well. “They’ve lost their workplace, income, security, and a majority […] their homes, yet they remain on Maui, selflessly dedicating themselves to aiding those around them who are also struggling due to the fires.”
  • Another Lahaina restaurant, The Dirty Monkey, put out a similar call, asking for funds for food, clothing and shelter for its workers.

Dive Insight:

Employer disaster preparedness includes many components, and larger employers may be better positioned to respond to emergencies than their small counterparts.

For example, Mathematica, a policy research group with offices around the country, said during California wildfires that it gives local employees leave during such emergencies and doesn’t count that time against their personal leave allotments. 

Restaurant chain Waffle House maintains “jump teams” who head to areas affected by a disaster, taking over restaurant operations to allow local workers to tend to their homes and families. The restaurant also can send a catering truck that gives away meals to residents and relief workers, it told HR Dive.

But even small employers can keep employee experience top of mind. Psychological trauma experts at the University of Denver recommended that HR pros be aware that different employees will experience and exhibit stress differently. And in terms of employer response, both space and support can both go a long way, they said; HR, in particular, can work to ensure employees know about employer-sponsored resources available to them.



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