Onshore America
People eating out at a restaurant

Our Wilmington, NC connection helps build a small lifeline in Altoona

When we face unknown and scary situations the initial reaction is “how will this impact me?” That’s okay. In fact, the immediate reaction of personal protection and survival is inherent in the gene pool. It’s human nature.

It’s what we do with the second reaction that can matter even more in the long run.

We’re a technology company. Many of our customers are essential businesses. And if there was ever a business that can be converted to a work-at-home environment quickly, it’s probably ours. We had been watching developments, monitoring relevant sources and planning among ourselves. We made the decision on Monday and Tuesday we were running at full-service strength to our customers.

But after that first reaction of survival and self-protection, we started viewing the crisis through a different lens. We saw a lot of people suffering. Friends and neighbors through no fault of their own were being shut down or severely restricted in their operations.

Restaurants and bars were sharing stories of concern and fear. With good reason. Businesses in place for decades are suddenly being put on the brink of extinction because of a forced government shutdown. Employees working in those restaurants are out of jobs during the “quarantine”.

In trying to think of a way to help, we naturally turned to technology, but it was a bit of over-thinking. “How do we use our team’s technology talent to help solve the problem? Apps? Web Portals? “

Then, we stumbled upon an idea through our involvement and expansion into Wilmington, NC. We’ve had an office there for a couple of years now. And while it is doing well and growing, one of the unintended side effects of being in another state, in another region of the country, is the chance to see different ideas and different perspectives.

We were introduced by Wilmington friend and fellow Penn State Grad (We Are!) Lisa Leath to a Facebook page where the Wilmington community was bringing together restaurants trying to get out the word that they were open for pick up/delivery with customers, concerned citizens and, frankly, hungry people who wanted to both help and eat. They had 7500+ followers.

So, we created the Altoona / Blair County Take Out & Delivery Facebook page and asked our employees to take some time out of their regular workday to help build, grow and promote it. The trick is to get enough people interested to join the page in order to then encourage restaurants, bars or food trucks to take the time to post.

It seems to be working. In about 8 hours, the group has over 1800 members and continues to grow. Restaurants and bars are posting and hopefully people are dialing the phones and ordering food. It certainly won’t be the savior but hopefully it’s helping in some small way.

We have no idea where this quarantine/pandemic is going to go. Sadly, much of it is beyond our control. But there’s a fundamental life lesson that should be reinforced through all of this.

You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it. We can be creative and find ways to respond that help everyone.

We can learn and be inspired by friends and neighbors. We can even learn from small southern towns about simple things we can do to help our neighbors. We’re all in this together.

Thank you, Wilmington.
Wash your hands.

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