This week I spoke with two inspiring celebrities who formed a friendship over their shared passion for philanthropy (and good wine): chef José Andrés and musician Dave Matthews. They shared how they use personal strengths to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrés’s fast-growing nonprofit World Central Kitchen currently serves over 150,000 meals a day to first responders, the elderly, people experiencing homelessness, children, low-income families, and others across the country who are in need of food during this crisis.
Matthews is channeling his energy into virtual concerts to support the farming community, small businesses, and nonprofits affected by COVID-19.
Below are some of my favorite takeaways from today’s discussion.
Andrés, on his restaurants: “We covered the needs, the blind spots of the system. I closed my restaurants, and I said, ‘I’m not closing to never open again; I’m opening as a community kitchen.’ Because restaurants will play an important role in feeding the local communities.”
On the need for immediate outreach: “In this moment, you don’t grieve. You take action,” Andrés said. Matthews echoed the sentiment: “What the word emergency means to [Andrés] is: now!”
Matthews, on playing to people’s superpowers: “[Andrés] comes in and finds [a person’s] strength, finds their better qualities … Find the teachers, find the healers, and use them to lead you.”
Andrés, on the importance of immigrants: “In Corona, in the heart of Queens, the reality is that these men and women are part of the DNA of America … We have many things that we take for granted. They are undocumented, underpaid, and sometimes without health care, and in a moment like this, we forget them. They are a part of America. They are ghosts in the system. In moments like these, we should support them because when things are good, they are always supporting us.”
Matthews, on coming together: “Every opportunity to build bridges in this situation should happen. Build a better system of understanding so we can move forward. We need to come together and solve this as one people — as a community — single voices powerfully saying the same thing. We can’t be bickering. We need the wisdom of people who are changing things for the better.”
Despite how discouraging the situation might look and feel at times, Andrés remains positive that by social distancing and listening to experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.
“Loving each other now is staying away from each other. This is going to change. People are hopeless. Don’t be hopeless. Be hopeful. We’ll come together stronger,” he said. “And before we know it, we’ll be in the restaurants and listening to the music of Dave and many others.”
For more thoughts from Andrés and Matthews, including the “power of proximity” to the people you serve and how we’ll rebound after COVID-19, watch the full video below.
In this time of crisis, many of us are thinking about how to uplift those who need it most. If you are able, please consider supporting Jose Andrés’ World Central Kitchen. They are mobilizing local chefs and communities to provide first responder disaster relief in the form of hot, nutritious meals. You can make a donation online or text MEALS to 80100 to donate $10 to World Central Kitchen.
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