Melting Pot worker gets $500 check thanks to NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The hospitality industry is one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just in North Carolina, 18,000 restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms under the stay-at-home order, which means all of those workers are out of work and in need of money.

Kristen Whitehurst is one of those workers. She works at the Melting Pot in Raleigh, and when it closed, she lost her source of income. She hasn't worked since March 27.

"I'm worried about how to make things happen, provide a roof over our head," Whitehurst, a single mom to a 17-month-old son, said. Whitehurst is doing everything she can to make ends meet, which included filing for unemployment right away. "I haven't seen any benefits coming through, even filing weekly."

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A friend told her about the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund. The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA), launched a relief fund to provide fast access to cash for restaurant and hotel workers immediately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal of the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund is to provide qualified applicants with $500 to help with the immediate expenses faced by many who have suddenly found themselves without work. Whitehurst filled out an application online and then got an email that she was approved. Within a week, she got a $500.00 check.

"I was very thankful for that," Whitehurst said. "I put it towards bills, keeping things paid, and I'm just very thankful."

Steve Thanhauser, chair of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association and co-owner of Raleigh's famed Angus Barn Steakhouse, said donations have poured into the relief fund.

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"We raised over $800,000," Thanhauser said. "We've answered the call to over 1,000 employees in the Triangle."

The fund is not currently accepting applications, as there are thousands of people on the waiting list.
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