Look For the Helpers

 Shameless Ask: As the Shutdown drags on, the pinch we feel gets harder and harder, I love writing and sharing these posts, but they take time for me to research, write, and publish. If you feel you benefit from them, and you have a little extra would you consider making a small donation  to help us keep them going. Disclaimer: 30Rock is the Intellectual Property of NBC and images and characters used here are used for educational purposes under Section 107 of the US Copyright Law: Fair Use.  

Welcome readers after a short mental-health break, I am back to writing my shutdown stories. Welcome to day 33. Thirty-Three Days. More than a month. It’s infuriating, it’s scary. But, instead of focusing on the very scary consequences of shutting part of the Federal government down for more than a month. I want to focus this post on who’s out there helping affected workers in impactful ways and how we can support them. 

Look for the Helpers

We all remember Mister Rogers’ neighborhood right? The soothing dolcet tones of Fred Rogers in a cardigan telling kiddos to be kind to their neighbors and taking us via the neighborhood trolly to the land of Make-Believe. Mister Rogers was a calm, cool, collected, honest bringer of kindness and knowledge into the homes of kids from 1968 to 2001. Of all the trips I took to talk to Daniel Tiger, King Friday, and Lady Elaine what I remember most about Mister Rogers is actually a quote about something his mother taught him as a boy:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

As this partial shutdown drags on and becomes more of a disaster, let’s look for the helpers.

Where Do We Find Them?

The thing that has been most frustrating, for me at least, has been the absolute lack of understanding of the impact of a shutdown on the economy. What’s been the most comfort – seeing the parts of the economy that are impacted step up and help out. This is a living list, if you are finding businesses that are providing services at free or reduced cost to affected workers, please send me a message

Pizza Doesn’t Pay the Rent – But You’ve Got to Eat

There are so many restaurants who have stepped up to say “we will help feed these people” it fills my public Facebook feed and keeps me energized to keep writing and keep fighting. Here is a (not-complete, but as complete as I can make it. If you are affected, these offers are a great way to eat…but also a great way to fight the crushing isolation of furlough time. If you are un-affected please consider supporting these restaurants (and other businesses below) by giving them your money, many of them are small businesses and in order to keep up their support of furloughed and excepted feds and contractors they will need money coming in from other sources.


World Central Kitchen – Nation Wide Efforts: Nobel Prize Nominated Chef Jose Andres has opened the doors of his World Central Kitchen wide for Feds. He has started the #ChefsForFeds program to keep the feds fed (see what I did there) all over the country.  Jose Andres’ restaurants support this directly, and are delicious.

JBJ Soul Kitchen – Toms River, NJ: Jon Bon Jovi’s restaurant in Toms River has always worked on a “pay what you can” system. For two hours mid day they opened their doors to Furloughed feds with a pledge to continue based on demand.

Great Harvest Bread Company – Warrenton, VA: Great Havest bread in Warrenton, VA has put out a “shutdown shelf” of bread and baked goods free for the taking for affected workers and their families.

Arlie – Arlie, VA: Arlie is offering free breakfasts, lunches and dinners (there is a specific schedule, please contact them for more information) for affected workers and their families in their dining room.

Solo NY Pizza – Leesburg, VA: Solo NY Pizza is offering furloughed feds 10% off their bill until the shutdown ends

Kabob Zone – Woodbridge, VA: Kabob Zone is offering free kabob platters for affected employees. *Offer specifically excludes members of congress and the president.

&Pizza – Various DC Area Locations: &Pizza is offering free pizza to feds and $5 pizza for contractors between 3pm-5pm daily. To date, &Pizza has provided over 8,000 pizzas and has committed to do so until the shutdown is over.

All About Burger – Arlington, VA: All About Burger is offering a 20% discount to Federal employees until the shutdown ends.

Pay It Furloughed – Various DC Area Locations: Pay It Furloughed is a charity set up to provide beers for feds at Atlas Brew Works, DC Brau, Shop Made DC, and 3 Stars Brewing.

MOD Pizza – Various DC Area Locations: MOD Pizza is providing free pizza or salad for affected workers on Janurary 23rd.

Island Empanada – Medford, NY: Island Empanada is giving affected workers a free lunch special or 20% off a family value pack.

Mama Sezz – Battleboro, VT: Mama Sezz is offering a free 3-4 serving entrée to affected employees on Thrusdays from 5pm-7pm.

Tara Inn – Port Jefferson, NY: Tara Inn is providing a burger, fries and a soda or miller lite to affected employees.

Chicken Rico – Various DC Area Locations: Chicken Rico is giving 50% off to affected Employees.

There are many, many other restaurants participating in this kind of offer, this is just what has hit my newsfeed or inbox. If you have others, I would love to keep this up-to-date, please feel free to shoot me a message.


What’s That Depression? I Can’t Hear You Over All This Self Care


Self-care is a buzzword these days for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s frivolous. It’s also the first thing sacrificed in times on financial stress. There are several businesses offering self-care oriented services to affected workers:

Taylor & York – 7th St. NW DC: Taylor and York announced that they were providing a 50% discount on blowouts for affected workers, their clients then stepped up and donated enough for (at the time this was written) 5 free blowouts. Give them a call for details.

Blended Cuts and Styles – St. Charles, MO: Blended Cuts and Styles is offering free barbering services for families affected. You can call them for details at 314-363-1002.

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra – : ASO Is offering free tickets to this weekend’s Chopin and Mendelssohn concert. Please call or email them for tickets.

Bahama Paradise Cruise Lines – Palm Beach, FL: Bahama Paradise Cruises is offering an opportunity for affected Feds to board their ships for a free afternoon of fun. Please call customer service at 800-374-4363 to make a reservation.

Bayport Wellness – Bay Port, NY: Bayport Wellness is providing free gift cards for massage and facial services to affected feds during the shutdown.

We Need Food for the Humans and Food for the Non-Humans


There are a lot of options for keeping food in the pantry during the shutdown. Several food banks are running programs just for the affected workers and there’s even a pet store that will help you feed those furkids:

Capital Area Food Bank – Various DC Locations: Capital Area Food Bank is running popup food banks for affected workers every Saturday morning

Bark – Various DC Area Locations: Bark is offering free pet food to affected workers.

If you have additional resources, particularly resources outside of the DC area, please send them over to me so that I can update this list.


Tell Me More (No really, please tell me more)

There are so many more resources and helpers out there – this is only a beginning to this list. If you run across them please shoot us a message and a link (if possible) so we can get them updated on this page.



About the Author

Elizabeth DeBiase, CF APMP, has spent her life immersed in the GovCon community. She has helped government contractors – from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies – navigate the arcane and complex regulations that govern the process of winning and managing government contracts. Today, Liz is the majority owner of TWRG, and dedicates her time to making sure the truly ethical companies win government contracts so that citizens get the best services for their tax dollars. Being inside GovCon is to watch the sausage getting made. The vast majority of procurement actions are tied to taxpayer needs and are public knowledge, but very few people can take the time to follow the hundreds of thousands that are released each year. Liz’s career has given her the ability to quickly recite the historical and most recent major contract actions, describing who won them, why they did, and the effect they have on American communities. She can tell you how the Federal government works and why it works that way so that you can be more informed.