The idea for STL Adopt a server was hatched by a Waiting Room regular and has spread across the state.
Sitting at the Waiting Room on the eve of St. Louis County's order that shuttered restaurants and bars due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheri Beezley was positively crestfallen. To her, the bar's owners, Shelly and Steve "Doc" Dachroeden, are much more than the people who keep the lights on at her favorite north county watering hole; they are dear friends. She didn't know what to do, but she knew she had to do something.
"That night, we were waiting for the announcement watching the news and just crying together," Beezley says. "The Waiting Room is my Cheers; Doc and Shelley are my people. It's just devastating. You're there, you tip heavy and you go home, but you know that the shit is coming."
Beezely, now a nurse, spent much of her career in the service industry, and she knows what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck. She understood that the restaurant and bar closures for dine-in service would have devastating repercussions for industry workers, so she racked her brain thinking of anything she could do to lessen the blow.
The answer came to her while exchanging text messages with her friend, the Crow's Nest's Kenny Snarzyk. After throwing out several ideas to him — a T-shirt campaign, a raffle — she asked what he thought about an "Adopt a Server" program. The idea was simple: Industry workers who had been laid off or saw their incomes severely reduced because of the pandemic would put together Amazon wish lists, and adopters would purchase those items from the list. Snarzyk agreed it was a great idea, and before signing off from their messages, they had the outline of what would become STL-Adopt a server
"As soon as he said yes, I started the group on Facebook," Beezley says. "I figured that I have all of these nurse friends who still have paychecks coming in, so I could help by hooking them up with all of my server and bartender friends. I had no clue how this would blow up."
STL-Adopt a server has indeed grown into a massive operation. Since its founding on March 17, the group has amassed over 3,000 members and has completed 424 adoptions. There is already a chapter in Kansas City, one in Columbia and another in the works for Florida. In fact, the group has been so successful that it has had to stop accepting new adopters until it can find enough adoptees to match up with them.
"I think it's hard for people to ask for help," Beezley explains. "I have people ask me what to put on their lists because they don't even know what to ask for. Some of them feel bad, but I tell them that there are good vibes both ways because it makes adopters feel like they can do something during this crazy situation. It's not like it's charity. It's a gift someone wants to give."
Because of the overwhelming response to the group, Beezley, herself, has had to ask for help. Her acquaintances, Destiny Massey and Erin Rauch have been serving as admins for the group and running the day-to-day operations. As Beezley explains, it's become a full-time job for the women. Even so, they are just happy that they can help.
"I think that this is the thing that keeps me going," Beezley says. "Even though I see a lot of crazy shit, when you see those 'thank you' posts from adoptees, it gives me hope for humanity. It's amazing."
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