BALTIMORE (WJZ) — We’ve shown you firsthand how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for the restaurant industry, but one Baltimorean has turned that loss into generosity.
On Opening Day the Orioles will say thank you to one Baltimore man.
READ MORE: Investigators Identify Sailors Shot By Navy Medic Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet Near Fort Detrick, Investigation Continues Into Motive
“It means a lot,” Dave Seel, President of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, said.
Before the first pitch even glides from the mound, Opening Day will already be a home run for Seel.
“I’m thrilled. I’m gonna be taking my 10-year-old daughter,” he said.”It’s really been an incredible year and it has just shown just how much Baltimore cares about its own.”
Caring for others is exactly why Seel is being honored by the Orioles on Thursday.
A Facebook support group Seel created for restaurant workers is now a nonprofit, serving everything from grants, meals and money to workers and restaurants trying to bounce back.
“Our first initiative was our Hundred for Hundred Grant Program for restaurant workers, and that was a $100 micro-grants for unemployed or underemployed restaurant workers,” Seel said.
READ MORE: Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd Criticizes Gov. Larry Hogan’s COVID Response At FEMA Mass Vaccination Site Opening
The devastation was unprecedented and space for resources quickly grew into a family.
“I’ve worked within the restaurant industry for the last 10 years here in Baltimore and I really wanted to do something and really wanted to provide that sense of positivity and sense of community,” Seel said.
As restrictions lifted, outdoor dining became the bread and butter for many restaurants.
“We provided about $20,000 to 20 different restaurants to assist with outdoor dining initiatives,” Seel said.
At a time of hopelessness, Seel guided others to their sweet spot.
“That is something that is just a beautiful thing about this city is that we really care about each other and care about our neighbors,” he said. “We were able to raise over $250,000 throughout the year.”
Seel said he hopes the fund will support entrepreneurs moving forward and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated so they can support local businesses, safely.
For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.
MORE NEWS: Maryland Lawmakers Approve Package Of Police Reform Measures
tease: oh so thankful: coming up on wjz.. one baltimore reacts to his opening day honor. how he helped thousands of local restaurants survive the pandemic.