Change Companies owner organizes help for laid off workers in Carson City
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Change Companies owner, Don Kuhl, wanted to help out some of Carson City’s workers laid off due the statewide COVID-19 shutdown.
So he reached out to Gina Lopez Hill, executive director of the Brewery Arts Center, who he works with as the main sponsor of the BAC’s summer concert series.
“He emailed and said ‘I want to do something for the people who have lost their income, tips and wages, hard workers who work for non-essential businesses,” said Hill. “And I want to do it in such a way as to inspire other companies to do the same thing.’”
In less than 24 hours, Kuhl, his wife Sherry Newsom, and some staff from their business shopped at Save Mart on North Carson Street and assembled 200 bags of groceries. And Benson’s Pet Foods & Supplies donated cat and dog food to help fill them up.
Then, on March 20, a team of BAC volunteers gathered at the arts center on Washington Street for a pop-up event to distribute the groceries, some books authored by Kuhl, and $100 cash provided by The Change Companies to each recipient.
“We just love the community of Carson City and my wife and I know a lot of people who are hourly and tipped employees,” said Kuhl. “We’re just trying to reach out and do something good for them.”
The company and BAC hosted a second event Tuesday. This time BAC volunteers gave out $15 gift certificates to Sonic Drive-In, bags of donut holes from Donuts To Go, an interactive journal published by The Changes Companies, and $80 each to about 265 cars.
The events are held as a drive-through in the BAC parking lot and volunteers maintain recommended distancing and wear gloves. Local musician Brandon Dodge played the marimba at the first event, while three local musicians serenaded during the second, and volunteers dressed up in costume.
“We got a lot of smiles and a lot of tears,” said Hill.
The organizers did not advertise the events and instead reached out to people they knew could use the help — laid off restaurant workers, school workers, and musicians, among others.
Kuhl said they’re brainstorming about possible other ways to help, but he also hopes the events have already led by example.
“One of my goals is to get local business leaders and those that can afford it to step up,” said Kuhl. “It just makes sense during this time for people to give and serve and to find their own ways of doing that. It’s kind of a scary time.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.