First of all, I just want to say how amazed I am at the way the community has come together over the incident at Haiku.
At work, all of us servers have been discussing how best to help the family; restaurant workers very rarely have insurance. We almost never have disability insurance, and sadly, very few of us have the "3 month safety net" recommended by economists. Being disabled or discovering you have some sort of debilitating illness is (for me, at least) a constant, back-of-your-mind fear. Because we work on our feet, not all of us have something to "fall back on" if we are injured. We don't have giant corporations supporting us if we can't work. We can go from perfectly comfortable in life to completely broke in one month. Of course, restaurant workers aren't the only ones to have to live this way, it just happens that we are in the spotlight right now. And, we cost our employers basically nothing (we are paid $3.40 an hour, all of which goes to the government).
The reason I'm saying all of this is because Rachel and her family, regardless of their prior financial situation, need help.
Just for example: a (server) friend of mine had a heart attack last year. He didn't have insurance. He was back to waiting table 2 weeks later, and then received his bill in the mail: $115,000. Yes, the bill for a heart attack is nearly as much as my house. All he could do was laugh about it - "what am I supposed to do with this? Put it on the fridge?!"
My friend Kelly, also a server, who donated a kidney earlier this year, was not provided any sort of disability. She had to save enough money to pay her bills for the month she was going to be out of work so that she could save her ex-boyfriend's life. There isn't even a tax credit or anything for being a living organ donor. Isn't that weird?
All of that to say, please donate. There are lots of ways to help, and they are outlined below, this press release provided by Liz Lessner and CORA (the Central Ohio Restaurant Association):
Community Rallies to Aid Hit-and-Run Victims
Plans benefit weekend
Columbus, OH—Short North businesses, restaurants, and friends have demonstrated a tremendous outpouring of support in the week following the tragic events outside Haiku restaurant. Now, family and friends of the victims are teaming up with Short North retailers to plan a collaborative fundraising effort to help support the victims and their families during this difficult time.
Update on the condition of the victims
Julie Liu, co-owner of Haiku, suffered fractures to her sternum, multiple fractures to her ribs, a broken collarbone, and a dislocated wrist. She is also suffering from a serious concussion and a bruised brain. Doctors at The Ohio State University Medical Center are keeping Julie at the hospital to monitor her brain condition and her rehabilitation.
Bartender, artist, and OSU student Rachel Widomski has suffered severe spinal cord injuries. While she has displayed remarkable strength throughout the ordeal, Rachel will be permanently paralyzed as a result of her injuries. Her rehabilitation will be extensive due to the severity of the spinal cord injuries.
The Rachel Widomski Medical Care Trust has been set up at Huntington Bank. Anyone may make donations in person or mail checks to any Huntington Bank branch. Online donations are being accepted at www.haikuhelp.com. Paul Liu, co-owner of Haiku and husband of Julie Liu, states that "even though Julie's condition is not certain at this time, I would like to place our focus on Rachel" in reference to fundraising and benefit efforts.
Statement from Paul Liu, co-owner of Haiku and husband of Julie Liu
"Thank you to Mr. Todd Sandler for your heroic act of putting yourself in harm's way and also thank you for assisting the police in facilitating the apprehension of the perpetrator. My deepest gratitude goes to the support and help of Mayor Coleman's office, the City of Columbus, the Columbus police department, paramedics, and the armies of nurses and doctors at The Ohio State University Medical Center for your caring and dedication to the excellence of your profession.
Right now, I am overwhelmed by the people of Columbus with all the love, well wishes, prayers, and generosity that have been expressed to me, my family, and my extended family here at Haiku. I sincerely thank you. I would also like to thank the media for their sensitivity to my and Rachel's family and the delicate nature in which you have reported on this inconceivable incident. Thank you for embracing us at a time of need and showing how much love is in this city."
Rachel is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. She has been in Columbus 6 years. She had recently begun pursuit of a bachelors in fine arts at The Ohio State University. Her parents and family have come to be by her side to help her through this inconceivably difficult time. The community is rallying to help the family manage the challenge of costs related to lodging, food and travel. Hotel rooms, dining certificates and cash donations are vital. Rachel's prognosis indicates she will be hospitalized for months. She will need the support of her family close at hand to face the challenges that await her. If you would like to contribute, please visit www.haikuhelp.com or email email@example.com.
Rachel's life has been shattered. Her medical expenses and rehabilitation expenses will be insurmountable for her and her family. We have an opportunity as a community to step forward and offer tokens of assistance that will help bridge the chasm to recovery. The following are among the first of many such opportunities:
Benefit weekend Friday, June 6 through Sunday, June 8
In response to this catastrophic event, friends and family of Rachel and Julie are planning a three-day series of benefit events that will raise money to help assist the victims and their families throughout their recovery. The benefit weekend consists of four parts and will require the support of the entire community to be successful.
1. Tip Drive: Through her work at Haiku, Rachel was a "family member" of both the Short North Arts District and the restaurant community. An overwhelming number of Short North restaurants and businesses will be participating in a three-day effort to raise awareness and gather donations. Many restaurants are reporting that their service staff has agreed to donate their collected tips to the fund. The Central Ohio Restaurant Association is also working to expand the Tip Drive effort across the city. Restaurateurs interested in participating should contact Elizabeth Lessner via email at Elizabeth@tiptopcolumbus.com.
2. Artwork Silent Auction: Rachel studied art at The Ohio State University and is herself a budding Ohio artist. Rachel's, Julie's, and Haiku's impact on the arts community will be demonstrated through a silent auction of local artist's works. This will be held at The Art Exchange (17 E. Brickel Street in the Short North). All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the recovery fund. Full details will be posted at haikuhelp.com and shortnorth.org beginning May 29.
3. A Place of Reflection: The storefront at 650 N. High Street will be transformed into an elegant showcase of the two women's lives. This is a place where visitors can reflect, write letters to Julie and Rachel, read updates about their recovery progress, and learn how to make contributions to the fund. Rachel's artwork will also be on display. The storefront will be active beginning the week of June 2.
4. Benefit Concert: A concert to round out the Gallery Hop evening, Saturday, June 7, will feature several well-known local acts. The evening concert will be held in the vicinity of Haiku Restaurant (800 N. High Street). Band line-up and schedule will be posted at haikuhelp.com and shortnorth.org beginning May 29.
Volunteers—We need your help
As this is an all-volunteer effort, we need all the help we can get. The Short North Business Association, Central Ohio Restaurant Association, and Couchfire Collective are working together to organize these events and gather volunteer support. If you or your business would like to get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions—Ongoing Initiatives and Opportunities to Send Support
In addition to visiting Huntington Bank to contribute to Rachel's trust fund, concerned citizens can also make contributions online at www.haikuhelp.com. This website will also be an ongoing source of information about the recovery of both Julie and Rachel, and a calendar of planned events to continue the support efforts well into the future.
Contact: John Angelo, Executive Director, Short North Business Association
614.299.8050 • 513.289.8300 (cell) • email@example.com