The restaurant and hospitality industry is the largest in the country by a magnitude of 2x and is growing faster than any other. Yet – in addition to many truly amazing people – this one industry is the catch basin in our nation for all of the most vulnerable demographics. Including single parents, income insecure seniors, at-risk teens, immigrants, and those formerly incarcerated ready to make a new start. This concentration is the result of some very good news… anyone willing to work can get a job. But put so many at-risk individuals together under one roof and it is not surprising that this industry has the highest rates of people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction, massive amounts of divorce and broken relationships, redline stress levels, job instability, rapid turnover, and almost no safety net.
Yet, because this is the HOSPITALITY industry, these employees must have smiles on their faces to greet the rest of us. This causes their stunning level of need to rarely be noticed.
43% of those in the industry fall below the “survival” income line set by economists. This amount below the official poverty line is DOUBLE that of any other working population.
Those working in this industry struggle with drug and alcohol addiction more than any other working group in the nation.
Even with the changes in health care policy, the safety net is almost non-existent for those in this industry and many work while sick and/or injured just to keep some money coming in.
our care model
Big Table works on a referral model, not a “hotline” model. We build a network of managers, owners, and employees across the industry and when they see someone in crisis, they submit a personal referral.
This simple referral process both strengthens existing community and provides real accountability, virtually eliminating requests from those trying to take advantage of the system.
We respond directly and personally – seeking to meet an immediate crisis need as quickly as possible with the goal of keeping a family or individual from falling off the ledge.
We partner with the best resource providers in the community when a need can be best met collaboratively. These include doctors, dentists, therapists, auto mechanics, and lawyers.
Where we see lives truly change is when we are able to shift from triage care to investing in longer term coaching and mentoring with a care recipient. Once the crisis has passed we continue to walk alongside individuals – offering accountability and encouragement. Time and time again, care recipients say it is this ongoing relationship that gives them hope and direction.
the “Big Table”
There is an actual big table. It seats 48 people. We host amazing six and seven course chef dinners several times a year. But what makes these dinners truly special is the guest list — those invited work in the industry. Every other day they serve the rest of us, but for one night the tables are turned and we serve them. The community created at these meals leads directly into the care and coaching we do day in and day out to impact those in crisis.
stories of impact
Stories of the targeted impact and long term hope that comes out of Big Table care.
Behind the Smiles
An overview of Big Table care for the working poor that highlights several Seattle stories.
Power of Presence
Highlighting Big Table care and the struggles associated with working in a restaurant or hotel in Spokane.
a vision of hope
Big Table began in 2009 when a Spokane native pastor moonlighting as a food critic noticed there was incredible need and very little safety net in the nation’s largest working population – the restaurant and hospitality industry. After an extensive nationwide search, Kevin Finch found that there was not a single non-profit focusing on the unique needs of industry workers in crisis. Compelled by faith to serve hope to those who serve us, Big Table was born.