Community supporting service workers during pandemic; Virtual tip jar established

Many local residents at Lake Tahoe are connected to the service industry.

As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, service industry jobs have been severely affected.

For workers who rely on tips, closures have been detrimental to income.

While many restaurants have closed down, there are still several around the lake that have moved strictly to curbside or delivery.

Crazy Good Bakery at the Y in South Lake Tahoe has shut their doors, but opened a call in, walk up window for customers. “Hours have been cut back drastically but the customers we do get all seem super grateful that we are open,” said Chelsie Rossell, a barista. “With less customers and business there is definitely way less tips, but I know that I am not alone in that and I am just grateful to still have work for the time being.”

While business has slowed, the light of the community has still shined bright.

“I feel like if customers are in a position to be a little more generous than normal with their tipping then they definitely do, and I so appreciate them for it.”

Mike Smith is a local musician that plays music daily at various restaurants and bars. With the Shelter-in-Place initiative and closure of many of the venues where Smith plays, live performing is not an option and with that comes loss of tips.

Smith recently tried a live-streamed performance with his Venmo handle.

“People were pretty generous. I did feel a tiny bit guilty because these people probably aren’t working either,” said Smith. “I’ve been trying to think of a way to pay it forward and do my part as well.”

After the live-streamed video, Smith received several ‘thank you’ messages online.

Smith and another local musician, Taylor Huff, recently released an album together called Rebel Heart Tahoe.

“Luckily I have the ability to offer something like that online and am grateful to be able to make any money and brighten some days,” Smith said.

Nick Giordano was the bar manager at the Loft and was in the process of launching a food truck here in Tahoe.

He has worked in the local service industry for a decade. When Giordano saw how service workers in our community were being affected, he went on a search for a way to help. Giordano noticed how in big tourism cities like Los Angeles were starting virtual tip jars to help service industry professionals.

Giordano decided to bring the same idea here to Tahoe.

“Big percentage of Tahoans are being affected by this,” said Giordano. “We are a community that relies on the service industry.”

Giordano created a Tahoe Basin Virtual Tip Jar that will help assist service industry professionals who live in the Lake Tahoe Basin and have lost their job due to COVID-19.

The virtual tip jar is meant to financially help those who primarily rely on tips as income within our community including bartenders, musicians, hair stylists, baristas and more. Service industry workers can register themselves on the site with either Venmo or Cash App.

The database randomly chooses a worker and gets the opportunity to be “tipped” and the individual gets directly paid from their chosen platform.

“This community has given so much to me and the rest of us,” said Giordano. “This is a way to give back to the community and fellow co-workers.”

Giordano also created a Facebook page “Tips for Tahoe” which creates a platform for service industry workers to share challenges, issues or inspiration. This page acts as a support group for workers during difficult times and Giordano wants to keep the page active moving forward.

“There really isn’t any sort of support group or community outreach program for service industry employees,” said Giordano.

This page is also a way to say thank you to people who are tipping through the virtual tip jar.

To join the Facebook group visit If you would like to donate or if you work in the service industry and want to register for the virtual tip jar visit, groups/868516500254539/.

If you would like to donate or if you work in the service industry and want to register for the virtual tip jar visit,

El Dorado County wineries offer virtual tastings, food classes, discounted wines

El Dorado County wineries are adjusting to shelter in place directives and keeping their businesses moving forward by offering virtual tastings, food classes and even discounted wine and deliveries.

While Boeger Winery in Placerville has closed doors to the tasting room and closed patio seating, the owners decided to use this time to let their creative juices flow.

Justin and Eileen Boeger will be live streaming from their kitchen from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays on Facebook and are encouraging viewers to follow along in real time while they cook themed dinners at home and sip on local wine.

Boeger Winery is still offering curbside pickup daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information or to order wine, visit

Bumgarner Winery in Camino launched a Virtual Tasting Room series that allows wine enthusiasts to bring the wine tasting home.

This is the perfect excuse to dress up during quarantine. Follow along with knowledgeable vinters while they guide you through each wine’s story.

In each virtual tasting, hosts will select a few wines to explore in advance.

Live stream attendees can pre-order their tasting kits. Tune in to discover the selected wines, what makes each wine unique and what dish each wine pairs best with.

Last Friday’s virtual tasting was hosted by winemaker, Brian Bumgarner and Russ Reyes, of Kilt & Cork. Best of all, after the tastings, you can enjoy the rest of the bottle.

The next virtual tastings are scheduled for April 10 and April 17. Each will feature different wines. One of the featured vintages will include a pinot vertical and the other three of Bumgarner’s Rhone style wines. They are also offering private tastings for groups of friends, family, and corporate team building. The winery will be live on Facebook at 10:15 a.m.

Bumgarner Winery is still open with a drive-thru window. Call ahead or order online.

Stay tuned on their Facebook pages for details of virtual tastings. For more information, visit or call 530-303-3418.

Madrona Vineyards is also adapting with virtual tastings. For the upcoming virtual tasting live stream, winemaker Paul Bush, and host Russ Reyes from Kilt & Cork, will be delving into the wine term “terroir.”

Terroir is what defines the characters in each wine regarding each location and explains what makes El Dorado County wines unique.

Tasting kits can be purchased in advance and will include three estate-grown Madrona wines: 2019 Chardonnay Hillside Collection, 2018 Grenache Hillside Collection, 2016 Cabernet Franc Signature Collection.

The kits are $80 including shipping.

Another live stream will be held April 9 and includes The Art of Blending and Expressions of Bordeaux Varietals.

For more information visit Madrona Vineyards Facebook page or visit

Mediterranean Vineyards has shifted to Facebook live to feature a cooking class at 5:30 p.m. Friday.

This week Mediterranean Vineyards is featuring cooking with Lisa and Justin with the theme of comfort food.

Recipes and ingredients needed to follow along during the class are posted in advance.

Mediterranean Vineyards is also offering curbside pickup at their tasting room and discounted shipping.

Tune into Virtual Happy Hour at 6 p.m. every Wednesday. For more information visit their Facebook page or go to

Via Romano Vineyards in Apple Hill is offering Saturday Night live music. Well, virtual live music.

When you purchase a bottle of wine, you can gain access to your own personal virtual concert. For more information visit

At Wofford Acres Vineyards, win a day shadowing knowledgeable vinters through the vineyard by writing a haiku about Wofford Acres. Send your family friendly haiku in an email to and it will be shared on their social media channels.

The tour is redeemable once shelter in place ends. For more information visit

Several El Dorado County wineries are offering discounted wine cases and shipping.

For more information visit El Dorado Wineries Association at

Locals make, donate protective gear to front line workers during shortage

Healthcare workers across the country are running out of essential personal protective equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Medical facilities and workers have all made pleas, asking for stockpiled or even handmade PPE due to limited local supply.

Those pleas have been heard by some locals who have stepped up to help those on the front line in the coronavirus struggle.

A pair of South Lake Tahoe residents are making and donating fabric, handmade masks while an Incline Village resident is trying to bring 3-D face shields to local hospitals.

Jade Child, of South Lake Tahoe, has been busy sewing PPE masks. She dropped her first batch of 24 masks at Grass Roots Natural Foods and sent three others to nurses in Reno.

Child said she bought the material over a year ago originally to make baby bows or dogs bandanas, but when she saw people online making masks she switched gears.

Now, the material is being used to protect local workers at gas stations, grocery stores, post-offices and more.

“People have been really reaching out,” Child said and added that she wants to focus efforts on people who don’t have access to masks.

She said she is making masks for several for people who are still working daily at a local business.

“I am just happy to help,” she said.

Child is accepting donations to buy materials, but a donation is not required if someone is in need of a mask.

Child is also a small business owner herself. She is the co-founder of South Tahoe Craft Company which sells jewelry and self-care products.

Another South Shore local, Lela Sims, recently saw a post on Facebook that was calling on people who could sew and use a pattern and, luckily for those in need, she knows how to sew as well.

Sims had a friend who donated some supplies to her and she got to work.

“I just started making them and giving them away on Sunday and since then, they’ve gone to Barton, Los Angeles, Reno and Arizona.”

Across the lake, Sara Shorin of Incline Village is trying to bring 3-D printed face shields to local hospitals in the Reno-Tahoe area to prepare for the peak of COVID-19.

Shorin began searching for effective face shields when she heard that the St. Josephs in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her sister works, had to use clear plastic sheets (the ones used in binders) as makeshift shields for those working with COVID-19 patients.

Shocked, Shorin began searching for something better.

“Everyone is scabbling for supplies,” Shorin said.

She found a 3-D shield model by PRUSA, a small company from Czechoslovakia that created an open-sourced design for the shields that have been approved by Michigan Medical.

With that design, Shorin found a 3-D printing vendor and printed 1,000 shields which she donated to St. Josephs.

Shorin has been pitching the design to local hospitals including Renown, St. Marys, Carson Tahoe, Tahoe Forest and Barton. Shorin is connecting nonprofits and hospital foundations with local 3-D printing vendors.

“Supplies are going to hotspots, communities are going to be left behind,” Shorin said. “Communities are going to have to rise up.”

Shorin is taking out the time-consuming legwork so medical workers don’t have to sift through to find the right design and instead just receive the right gear. Shorin explained that each hospital can modify the shield to fit their criteria. Shorin wants to take the model she did for Michigan and bring it here locally.

Shorin believes that each hospital system needs to have a call to action from their local community.

“Larger hotspots of COVID-19 are likely to get the attention of FEMA before addressing our smaller communities,” she said. “Each hospital system can have a big impact on saving their own community by working together to source and produce protective gear.”

Shorin plans to start a Facebook campaign to raise money for the shields.

For more information on the PRUSSA shield or to download the free printable design visit,

Barton is asking for medical supply donations including masks of any kind, disinfecting wipes such as Clorox or Sani-cloth wipes, hand sanitizer, face shields, goggles and eye shields, isolation or surgical gowns, controlled air purifying respirator and powered air purifying respirator machines or disposables.

Barton is also accepting sewn masks and urges people to donate materials to people who can sew.

“The Barton Foundation has gratefully received hundreds of handmade face masks as well as donated personal protective equipment from residents and local businesses,” said Barton Foundation Executive Director Chris Kiser in an email. “Like many hospitals in the nation, Barton has a limited supply of PPE as a result of the pandemic across the globe; therefore, community donations are helping to supplement our inventory.”

The Barton Foundation is organizing medical supply donations as a single access point to ensure safety criteria of donated supplies are met.

“This is an unprecedented time, with unprecedented solutions needed to solve constantly evolving issues,” Dr. Clint Purvance, President & CEO at Barton Health said in a press release. “This crisis has brought people and industries together in a joint effort to slow the coronavirus’ spread and save lives.”

Businesses and residents can make a tax-deductible donation of these medical supplies by contacting Kiser at, or 530-543-5612.

Drop-off location for supplies is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 2092 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 600, located directly across from Fire Station No. 3.

To learn more or to learn how to sew different types of masks visit

If someone is in need of a mask or wants to get involved, Lela Sims can be contacted at

Jude Child also can be reached at

Innovation in chaos: Tahoe promoters, business owners getting creative

This has been a difficult time for everyone around the world including Lake Tahoe.

Showroom stages are empty all around the lake.

Restaurants have either shut down or are trying to service customers anyway they can. Business owners shutting down to ride it out or are finding new ways to sell their goods.

It’s time for innovation and some businesses, entertainers and promoters are evolving due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The only way to hear live music is through artist recordings or YouTube videos.

While the sheltering in place directive has been issued by the governors in Nevada and California, new ideas have risen to connect fans back to live music.

The Quarantunes Virtual Music Festival begins this Thursday. The live streaming concert will take place every Thursday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. throughout the quarantine period.

Quarantunes is meant to feel a little like at Live at Lakeview. Allison Leslie, head of Live at Lakeview’s marketing, saw this as an opportunity to bring artists to Tahoe virtually and give the them a chance to gain revenue through a different platform.

“Social Media has never been better,” Leslie said. “We’ve seen a positive overwhelming response from the community.”

Leslie said she is happy to bring something positive to the community during this time and to keep Live at Lakeview moving forward.

Virtual shows are live streamed through Live at Lakeview’s Facebook page. While the virtual shows are free, artist donations through Venmo are strongly encouraged.

Thursday’s musicians include The Young Fables, Boot Juice, and Sam Chase.

The Young Fables and The Sam Chase are familiar with this sort of live streaming and virtual shows.

The Young Fables were even listed by Vogue as one of the 19 Musicians Who Are Overcoming Self-Isolation with Live Streamed Performances.

Boot Juice was in the middle of recording a new album when the studio was shut down due to the pandemic.

Local bands are also trying to take advantage of the live stream option.

The Connor Party streamed a show live from their house so all the “Sunday Basecampers” could get their Connor Party fix.

Taking a different direction, Lake Tahoe AleWorX is hosting a Virtual Cocktail Hour.

Tune in from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 27, to learn how to make easy, but yummy cocktails for a quarantine happy hour.

AleWorX’s own Matty Hellman will be hosting the show.

This is perfect for anyone wanting to learn new drinks or if you need some social connection during this time. The Virtual Cocktail Hour will be hosted through Zoom.

If you want to follow along with Hellman in real time, AleWorX recommends having these ingredients ready to go during the stream:

Large mixing glass, tall spoon, Tahoe Blue Vodka, Kahlua, half-n-half, Pepsi/Coke, dry vermouth (optional), olives and olive juice, cranberry Juice, Triple Sec, Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix, pepper, Tajin or any household seasoning, Worcestershire and hot sauce

While hanging at home making cocktails sounds nice, don’t drink too much and don’t forget to stay active.

Physically going to the gym or going to your yoga class is out of the picture right now but some places are not giving up.

Omni Yoga in South Lake Tahoe is still offering classes to members and nonmembers though virtual classes.

This is the time to stay consistent and not lose touch with goals.

Omni will continue offering different variations of yoga classes and barre classes.

Omni’s studio is currently closed but virtual classes are available to buy or rent on Vimeo and then live streamed on Zoom. Tuesday and Thursday Omni will be offering donation based classes at noon. Classes start at $2 for those who are just needing to practice but can’t afford full price classes at this time.

Elevated Fitness and Barton Orthopedics are offering Facebook Live classes and online training classes.

Or you also might be nominated in a pushup challenge on Instagram.

Either way, stay healthy and stay home.

Quarantining: making the best of it

In this current climate, many of us are worried about ourselves and loved ones due to the coronavirus.

While in the midst of the unknown, health officials are urging us all to do our part in “flattening the curve” – a term coined to help halt the spread of the virus.

Sports, school, businesses and events have been postponed and canceled. We are being called upon to stay home and practice social distancing. In our busy lives, this is usually near impossible and feels foreign.

However, this is the time to hunker down and ride it out.

Here are some ideas for happy quarantining.

Quarantine & Chill

Make your space cozy by lighting candles, cleaning up and brewing coffee.

Of course, there’s the television. Whether it be movies, Netflix, Amazon, HBO or good ol’ fashioned VHS tapes, binge all those films and series that everyone talks about.

If you really want to transport to another time, hit play on some Wyatt Earp or Tombstone.

I recommend staying away from movies like Pandemic and Outbreak even though they top rated right now on Netflix.

While binge watching, make sure to have popcorn on hand.

Watching movies is a great way to distract yourself from the not-so-positive news.

Even if you don’t have a T.V., check out YouTube tutorials on just about anything from changing your oil to makeup tutorials.

Games! Games! Games! Whether it be board games, card games or dice. There are so many fun games to play with your (disinfected) family.

Take this time to learn a new take on Rumi. Puzzles are also a fun, time-consuming way to spend your day.

Be Productive

For those who find it absolutely physically impossible to relax, use your free time to get ahead on your chores.

It’s spring, there’s ton of snow outside, this is a perfect time for spring cleaning.

Go through your stuff and donate. Embrace change by clear spacing and rearranging your living room or bedroom for summer.

Finally, get all the laundry done that has been piling up.

Try out some digital housekeeping by updating your LinkedIn account or clearing out some photos on Instagram and Facebook.

While going to the gym seems like a good place to relieve stress, skip the gym for now and workout at home.

Use this time to find workouts online. Exercising and getting our bodies moving will help relieve pent up anxiety.

There is an app for just about anything including yoga classes, breathing exercises, and yes.. even kickboxing if you need it.

With this extra time, even try learning a new language from your computer.

Embrace Creativity

You know all those things you said you’ve wanted to do but never had the time for? Well, now is your time.

Get crafty and make all those Pinterest boards come alive.

You can use stuff around the house like recycled lightbulb flower vases to wine bottle tiki torches.

Get your hands messy with DIY crafts or break out the sewing machine that is gathering dust.

Bake. This could be the best time to let the creativity flow and learn some new recipes.

Try out those time-consuming meals or sweet treats that you haven’t quite made the time for with your otherwise busy schedule.

Even try your luck at some of grandma’s ol’ family cookbook recipes or new-age recipes like cashew cheese.

Learn some new hobbies like playing the guitar.

Do something for others

Shovel snow from your neighbors yard.

Pick up groceries for your neighbor who is elderly or has a lower immune system.

Stay connected with your community by supporting local businesses with Etsy, online shops or donating.

Restaurants and bars are also being hit hard, buy a gift certificate to enjoy after the situation calms or grab some take out.

Disconnect to Connect

Use this time to reconnect with family members that you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Busy lives may unintentionally make us put family and friends on the back burner.

Call that uncle or that cousin you haven’t spoken to in years.

Reach out to your elders to put them in a positive spirit. This is an especially scary time for them.

Facetime or Skype your friends for a vitual coffee date.

Spend this time getting back in touch with your kids.

Teach them ol’ fashioned chores, like to knit and iron.

Treasure this special time with your family that might not always be so accessible.

Bury your nose in a book. Read those books that you started just before bed every night but havent had the time to completely finish. Check out local authors including Alice Henderson, Geoff Bott, Dayle Schear, Kathyrn Reed, Jonathan M. Purver, Cal Orey, Krista Lukas, Elizabeth Caffrey and Jeanine Stevens.

Listen to good music. Explore new artist.

Give your pets some love and cuddles, they are probably pretty excited to have you home.

Luckily we live in the mountains where open space is abundant.

Get outside and breathe some fresh, safe nature while soaking in Vitamin D.

There is nothing quite like disconnecting from technology and finding the connection within the trees.

Break out the snowshoes or cross country skis to find peace and solitude.

If you are feeling down about this sudden change and uncertainty, coming back to your roots can awaken creativity and the much needed solitude from society.

Realize that this short period of time will, like everything in life, change too. Take this time to lay low, be kind and smile at one another.