Area companies find ways to give back amid coronavirus crisis

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During a week that has brought many business operations to a screeching halt in response to drastic COVID-19 social distancing measures, some area companies have found ways to give back to the community.

American Companies, a West Bend-based design, construction and real estate company, has committed to purchasing 40 meals from four area restaurants, tipping their staff 40%, and donating them to four local nonprofit organizations.

President Kraig Sadownikow said his company wanted to give a boost to two industries that are particularly hard hit by the coronavirus-related shutdown, restaurants and nonprofits.

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“You can look around at our industry, your industry, the manufacturing industry, restaurants, nonprofits, we’re truly all in this together,” Sadownikow said. “No one is not affected by lockdowns or the lack of freedoms or financial struggles. We can help. We’re scared too. But we can help.”

Next week, the company will deliver meals to the nonprofits. They include: Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County, which connects seniors with volunteer helpers; the Medical Center Foundation of Hartford, which operates a variety of community programs; Family Promise of Washington County, which operates homeless shelters in West Bend; and Friends Inc., which provides emergency shelter, crisis intervention and advocacy service to survivors of intimate partner violence in Washington County.

As a B2B company working in industries that are expected to be particularly hard hit by the coronavirus closures, American Companies leaders are concerned about how it will weather the storm, Sadownikow said. But, he said, it’s also a time to demonstrate the strength of the community in challenging times.

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“We all think we know what we would do in time of crisis,” Sadownikow said. “We all think we would be the hero but  we’re really not sure. It takes a time like a crisis to really find out how an individual and certainly an organization would respond.”

“Make no mistake, we took the weekend to communicate with one another and were in full freakout mode … It’s scary,” he added. “But we’ve got smart, tough people and, after 72 hours of chewing on our fingernails, we said ‘someone’s got to stand up.’ And if we work together, its going to be OK.”

Stone Creek Coffee also found a way to give back to the community even as it made difficult business decisions of its own.

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On Monday, Stone Creek temporarily closed all of its metro Milwaukee and Chicago cafes in response to coronavirus concerns, leaving the company with a lot of uneaten food on its hands.

So, the company reached out to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, offering all of its perishable items, including milk, pastries and other food items that were expected to expire by the time the cafes reopen. Its Chicago location made a similar donation to Lakeview Food Pantry.

In total, Stone Creek gave away more 200 gallons of milk in addition to juices and food items.

For employees, the effort was a last opportunity to work together before the indefinite closure of their cafes.

“A lot of our team members were jazzed to be able to do something positive with all the stuff we had left,” said Drew Pond, director of retail and operations. “We have a lot of team members across the  city and had some cafes get all the stuff together and run it over. It’s tough for a company like ours where we are like a family. So to not go to work is to not be with our family. … We’re really looking forward to getting back together again.”

Pond said the shutdown presents an opportunity for companies and individuals to find ways to help.

“In a time like this, we can get really introspective,” he said. “We’re shut inside. We’re anxious, worried about what this means for us. But a deep introspection isn’t really going to help anything. What we need to do is, even if we can’t physically reach out, we can reach out digitally, connect with people, communicate care during this time. That’s what we’re all going to need to dig out of this. More connection, and more care.”

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