Within a few days of Milwaukee County leaders ordering bars and restaurants to close due to the imminent outbreak of COVID-19, bartender Randy Beck swung into action and started the "Odd Jobs for MKE Service Industry" page on Facebook.
The mission of the page is to connect temporarily unemployed service workers with cash-paying jobs that comply with social distancing rules.
As of today, there are more than 5,200 members of the group and many have connected with people looking for help in primarily areas of yard work, household chores and small projects.
"It’s important during this pandemic because there isn't another forum like this in Milwaukee helping the out-of-work service industry people make ends meet without a paycheck," says Beck. "It makes me extremely happy that so many people are getting work and getting jobs accomplished for the most part with no problems."
Michelle Diekow was a server at the Olive Garden in Greenfield for four years before getting laid off due to coronavirus.
Diekow drew on other strong skills and offered car detailing and repair on the page and within a day, had enough work to supplement her income for weeks, even months.
"People have been so nice and understanding. Everyone is so supportive," says Diekow. "I feel like we all are kind of like a cool, dysfunctional family."
On the flip side, Kate de Lucio has hired workers from the "odd jobs" page to perform landscaping including the removal of bushes and a small tree, leveling of a small plot of land and the removal of the detritus.
She admits she conjured a little extra faith in humanity before hiring someone from a Facebook page, but for her, it was well worth it.
"It was a little unnerving to hire someone ‘cold.’ But, the nice thing about the page is that there are so many mutual friends you know people are ‘vouched’ for," says de Lucio.
Many people who have hired workers from the page return to give feedback, which also better ensures a positive experience.
"There were many people who gave kudos to those who did work for them and it was good to see some first-hand recommendations," says de Lucio.
De Lucio and her husband are Milwaukee Pubic School teachers and therefore still working, so they have a little extra income to pay others. Plus, with all-day online classes and three small children, the de Lucios appreciated the help with yard tasks.
"My family and I liked this idea from the beginning. We wanted to provide work for someone who needed it – and it made our lives easier," says de Lucio. "It also reminds us that we are all vulnerable at times and that it is noble to ask for and give help when that time comes."
Join the "Odd Jobs for MKE Service Industry" here.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.