NRH: Jonathan, we are so excited to welcome you and Queens Together to the Nonprofit Resource Hub and our growing community! We all want to get to know about you and your organization. Let’s start off by having you tell us a little bit more about Queens Together and its mission?
JF: Alison, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the Nonprofit Resource Hub. We are excited to join the community. Queens Together started when COVID19 shut down NYC. We began fundraising on social media to pay for an idea that would help restaurants pay bills, keep employees on the job and provide meals to those suffering job loss or infirmities due to COVID. We call this system “Plating it forward.” Our long term goal is to be a “Last mile” support network for restaurants and communities. The Queens Together mission is “Restaurants supporting each other in business and feeding communities in crisis.” I am very proud of what we have accomplished to date.
NRH: Now, can you tell us about yourself? How and why did you choose this organization to work with?
JF: Sure thing. I am a long time Astoria Queens resident with a background in food service, sales and marketing. I co-founded Queens Together with the original intention of starting the first small business restaurant association in Queens. We had been working on the idea since the fall of 2019 and had been planning on applying for our 501c3 in July 2020. COVID squashed those plans but we realized we were perfectly positioned to do the “Plate it forward” concept. We were already part of the food community and had the “last mile”, “boots on the ground” connections to make this idea work locally across the borough. Honestly, it was also a morale booster for everyone involved. We were doing something useful in the face of so much loss.
NRH: Tell us what your goals are for your organization this coming year?
JF: Our goal for 2022 is to become a fully funded non profit organization, build our restaurant association membership and CBO partnership network. There are 6,000 food businesses in Queens and the goal is to create “One borough, One voice” to powerfully support one another. This combined network of restaurants and CBOs will support one another in good times and lead our food relief efforts in bad times.
NRH: Tell us about one success story you are really proud of.
JF: In the fall of 2020 we received $15,000 in funds for food relief. Queens Together organized 1500 meals for families and individuals living at shelters across Queens. We paid our teams of restaurants to prepare warm meals and our volunteer force to make deliveries to the shelters. Meals were cooked and delivered to all by 3pm the same day. It was an inspiring undertaking and everyone stepped up to make it happen. This is the power of community in action.
NRH: What do you find to be the biggest challenge to working in the nonprofit industry (or with your organization in particular) since the start of the pandemic?
JF: We are so new to this that we are really invisible to the nonprofit world and more importantly, to the organizations and elected officials that fund groups like ours. Don’t forget, we started from nothing. We have had a fiscal sponsor since April 2020. Our 501c3 status did not arrive till May 2021. We are still an unpaid volunteer force. It will take time to become a permanent, useful organization in our community.
NRH: Aside from increasing awareness and donations, what is one area of your business you would love assistance with?
JF: People and promotion! The best people for growing our advisory team and adding staff members, when funding allows. Promotion, to help get the word out to restaurants and CBOs. The more that join the stronger our voice and ability to help.
NRH: What program initiatives do you have scheduled for this coming year and how can the NRH community get involved to support you?
JF: The first initiative is to add restaurants and CBOs to our networks. This will allow us to connect resources to our restaurants and build food relief infrastructure with our community leaders. Membership for both networks are free. Our new website will be up and running by late February 2022.
NRH: What are you most looking forward to as a new Nonprofit Partner with the NRH?
JF: The opportunity to meet and learn from others.
NRH: Is there anyone you would like to connect with that, perhaps, we could help make an introduction for you?
JF: Kathryn Garcia. She knows how to get things done and could be a big sister to our community based food relief programs.
NRH: We encourage all of our Members and Partners to work on building our community and relationships within. How can we get in touch with you? What is your preferred method of communication?
JF: Email, text, phone.
NRH: Is there anything else you would like to share with the NRH community?
JF: The silver lining of COVID has been working with people who simply wanted to step up and do something positive during the pandemic. Everyone offered their skills and time to make this work happen. The power of “community in action” has shown me that anything is possible.
* Please add any other important information you would like to share including
links to your blog posts, white papers, etc.
FB: Queens Together