Cover photo: Envoy Customer Services Agents at Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Michigan has been one of the hardest hit states in the U.S. — currently it is seventh in confirmed cases. At Gerald R. Ford Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids, Mich., Envoy managers and lead agents began asking if anyone needed any support trying to find food and supplies.
As these discussions turned into a bartering market, with employees exchanging goods, Lead Agent Ruthie Blackgrove had an idea to start a food pantry for GRR employees and their families. Quickly, the word got out about the food pantry, and agents, pilots, flight attendants and even people away on leave began donating as much as they could to the effort.
We caught up with Ruthie to learn more about their food pantry and how it’s impacted their Envoy family.
The food pantry in the Envoy office at Gerald R. Ford Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Why did you want to start a food pantry for employees at GRR?
I wanted to help because I knew there were agents that depend on their income to support themselves and they weren’t able to find the necessities. Everyone was good about texting each other if they found toilet paper and such, so we decided that if anyone had any extra items at home they wanted to donate, we would start the pantry. So if someone was in need, they knew it was there to help them.
Has it been successful so far?
Yes, it’s encouraged people and brought the team in GRR together. We found that employees were very considerate of their peers, and would reach out to those who they knew lived alone, had health issues, etc.
Some of the younger team members showed genuine concern for the older team members and offered to grocery shop for them so they didn’t have to risk being exposed.
What impact do you think the food pantry has had on employees?
I think it’s comforting for people to know that they are not alone in this, and their work family is here to support them.
Why do you think it’s important to help others during this time?
Given the stress of the unknown both with the health risk and the uncertainty in the industry, team members will find comfort in knowing that we are here to help. We come to work every day to help those passengers who are traveling get to their destinations.
We don’t have a lot of employees calling out of work, so everyone is pitching in with the cleaning and sanitizing to help keep everyone safe.