“It was November 2016 and I was freaking the fuck out. A lifetime of undiagnosed mental illness, and a few traumatic events culminated on election night, and I was broken.” This is the origin story of the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. As co-founder, John deBary writes, he was left stunned and with the “recognition that those with privilege have a moral imperative to support marginalized people.”

He decided to start with what he knew. He reached out to Alex Pemoulié, a former colleague at Momofuku, and they began brainstorming ways for the restaurant community to brace for the next four years. They hatched a plan to start a nonprofit to act as a hedge fund that would raise money, invest it, and use the returns fund progressive social change. deBary ran the idea by his husband Michael (who has spent his entire career in the philanthropic sector), who confirmed that their goals had much in common with the mission of many population-focused community foundations like Stonewall Community Foundation and New York Women’s Foundation.

In late 2018, the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation held an event to announce its launch as an advocacy and action nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers. By addressing quality-of-life issues that disproportionately affect restaurant workers – 40% of whom live on poverty-level wages – RSCF aims to strengthen the workforce and increase opportunities for advancement in the industry to more people.

We’re so honored to have John deBary (Co-Founder) and his husband Michael Remaley (Board Treasurer) on this episode of HRN Happy Hour.

We also have a short call-in with Chef Paul Verica of The Stanley in Charlotte to talk about the upcoming Charleston Wine + Food Festival!

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