Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
At the onset of the COVID restrictions, on March 23, 2020, Rick Clark set something unique in motion. It was the third night of a fundraiser to help support local restaurants and shelters. Each night had resulted in over $1,000 raised in only 15 minutes.
Thus, Spokane Quaranteam (known as SQ) came into existence. With a servant’s heart, Rick worked diligently to host regular fundraisers and several successful events. “I never expected so much, especially from those who give their last dollar (literally),” he says. “The notes I receive with the small donations are humbling, and it’s all because they wanted to be part of making a difference in their community.”
Quaranteam is more than raising funds to support restaurants and providing meals. “It is a way for people to feel like part of our community, in the midst of the pandemic,” Rick explained. “When a lot of us are feeling alone and isolated.” Rick spent the first days of SQ live streaming to fundraise, which resulted in over $50,000 in 43 days. Since December, he continues to regularly hold live fundraising sessions when restaurants had to close for the second time in 2020.
Rick’s passion for philanthropy and giving back is inherent in the responses over the past year. Community efforts through SQ raised over $250,000 to use in many ways to support local restaurants and food service employees. This allowed over 17,000 meals to be purchased and given to shelters, senior centers, first responders, and many more to support those appreciative folks in need.
Now the SQ Facebook page, which is full of local restaurant raves and fundraising efforts, has nearly 33,000 members. Beyond live stream events, there have also been virtual concerts, a pop-up shop, and several SQ Road Trips. The first Road Trip was quite spontaneous, with SQ members driving out to Newman Lake to support Chase Honey Company. On Chase Honey Company’s Facebook page, it was noted about 450 cars visited their venue, for which they expressed thankfulness and gratitude.
There have been a few more Road Trips since then. The team flocked in social distancing fashion to Cheney’s Marketplace Restaurant & Amish Store in April. Participants pre-ordered at the Marketplace shop in order to “Get(ting) OUT together without being together. Place your order online, drive up, grab your goodies, keep it rollin’. Safe and fun!” In May, SQ went out to Medical Lake to share some love. Then, off to Hillyard in June to support the local business community. Additional Road Trips continue with the spirit of community and local business support when small businesses need it the most. Over 175 local restaurants have been supported in some way by SQ, from gift card purchases, SQ member visits and prepaid meals for those in need. Sometimes, prepaid meals or items are provided in a ‘pay it forward’ style.
At the start of the summer months, SQ rallied for a monumental task. Through fundraising and working with the Greater Spokane Food Truck Association, SQ helped feed houseless students throughout the summer with the Food Trucks Feed Our Future program. During July’s hottest days, acts of hydration were all over town for anyone needing a nice bottle of water or a sports drink. The SQ team has also been quite busy distributing goods received through the ability of nonprofits to partner with Amazon. SQ has received a multitude of items, including 19 pallets of returned household items, seven pallets of chips, and items for Backpacks of Hope.
While the pandemic continues to hold on, SQ is just beginning an unending journey of community support. The next scheduled Road Trip is to Freeman and Rockford, to occur on August 14. You don’t have to be an SQ member to join the Road Trip, so check out the SQ Facebook page for future details, or join the SQ and be ready to participate in this active community of amazing neighbors. Best stated on SQs Facebook page, “Spokane does not lay down when the devil rides through town. We rise up and make our own rules. We carve our own path.”
Thank you, Rick Clark, for bringing SQ and our community of helpers together! Each SQ member is a hero to our community and beyond, financially impacting our local businesses and supporting those who have little. You have risen to make us grateful to live in Spokane and proving the community has the power to overcome unthinkable challenges.