By: Jessie Monsivais Photos courtesy of: Visit Corpus Christi
Visit Corpus Christi is supporting local hospitality, tourism, and service industry employees with a new program called Visit Corpus Christi Cares, which provides emergency funding to employees from these industries faced with unforeseen expenses that cannot be covered by insurance. Due to nationwide stay-at-home orders, many of these businesses have been forced to temporarily shut down and reduce hours and staff. And as any local knows, these industries contribute heavily to our economy.
Meredith Darden, Director of Visitor Services at Visit Corpus Christi, said the idea was inspired by the difficulties of their job as a destination marketing organization when the pandemic hit and shut businesses down.
“To say to visitors, ‘Don’t come here because you can’t come here’ made us think about some of the other people in our industry and how they were affected,” Darden says. “We realized we had a mechanism to help them. We implemented the Visit CC Cares fundraising program to directly give to the employees that couldn’t go to work.”
Visit CC Cares, which launched on April 8, has partnered with Made in Corpus Christi to sell locally-made merchandise, with half the profits going directly to the Visit CC Cares fund. From T-shirts and hats to decals, koozies, and more, all products benefiting the non-profit program can be purchased directly online at madeincorpuschristi.com. Thanks to Made in Corpus Christi and significant private donations from the Vishal Raju Bhagat Foundation and Bill Pettus from Pettus Advertising, Visit CC Cares was able to distribute 11 financial assistance payments within a few weeks after the launch.
“It’s really heartwarming to see the community get behind the retail merchandise. Seeing people wear the products that say, ‘We Ride This Wave Together,’ knowing that they made that purchase with the understanding that 50 percent of the profits were going to somebody [in need], makes me proud to be a part of this community,” says Darden.
Darden said the Visit CC Cares program will always exist, because there are still unforeseen circumstances.
“We will keep the Visit CC Cares fund an evergreen fundraising mechanism so that we, as an organization, can assist if the need arises. We’re going to continue our line of merchandise with Made in Corpus Christi and will continue to campaign for private donations,” Darden says. “Visit CC Cares has funds available to help, and we want to help!”
Darden highly encourages struggling individuals in the hospitality, travel, or tourism industries to apply. The application process can be found online on the Visit Corpus Christi website. You can also make contributions via online donations or by mailing in a check or money order.
“We are thankful to see our community come together in these little movements,” Darden said. “It means so much to the people who are in need.”