We are so thankful for our frontline heroes!

Starting on National Nurses Day, we are celebrating the courage and selflessness of all of our healthcare heroes by making a donation to our clients and friends at Crystal Gardens Banquet Center​, who are serving free meals to first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We interviewed DeVonna Snowden about the initiative when it launched:

Expert Connexions Covid-19

Join the efforts to feed our frontline heroes at cgliv.com.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit with full force in early March, countless businesses were forced to shut their doors in response. Among those affected has been Crystal Gardens Banquet Center, a beautiful venue that has provided stunning weddings for happy couples for more than 40 years.

While the Stay Home, Stay Safe order remains in play, and gatherings larger than ten people are still on hold, this remarkable organization has turned to giving back to first responders in an effort to recognize their resilience and to repay their sacrifices. The venue is known for going above and beyond for all its clients, and transitioned that element of hospitality for nurses, doctors, and support staff. The free meals movement, called Feeding Our Frontline Heroes, has gathered significant sponsorships and community support and continues to promote and request assistance for our deserving first responders.

Crystal Garden’s off-premise catering and entertainment manager DeVonna Snowden explained more about the changes their business has faced. “We are in week six of this shutdown, so weddings and events have been canceled. But we quickly realized that we have a kitchen, a staff, a food supplier, and tons of catering supplies and boxes. Let’s see if we can’t give back to our community!”

This charitable attitude paired with years of catering expertise made the idea possible in a flash. With a dynamic two-person team (the executive chef and banquet manager), a streamlined boxed lunch process was hastily created to send to local hospital workers most in need of support. The results have been outstanding, with over 1800 boxed lunches being delivered to date!

“We are relying on our front line workers, and these deliveries are a big morale boost and help. It’s a meaningful act from our community,” DeVonna says. The grab-and-go meals have gone to the local hospitals with the biggest need, including St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital, St. Joseph Mercy of Brighton, Ascension of Howell, and more. DeVonna also discussed the amazing generosity of the firefighter and police departments, who told her to direct donations to the hospital workers instead of themselves. “It speaks to the kind of altruistic people who go into these professions. They are selfless,” she adds.

With the changes in traditional social norms, Crystal Gardens has adapted to make the most out of every donation. Elegance has turned into efficiency, as they individually package boxed lunches. Each lunch includes a sandwich or salad, bagged chips, and a cookie. The Executive Culinary Team is also happy to customize any menu to meet specific dietary needs. Social distancing guidelines and delivery without face-to-face interaction are all followed for everyone’s comfort. The door to door system has been honed to perfection and adapted to best serve the essential first responders who are serving the local community.

“While we have been overwhelmed with generous sponsorships, the need for help is still there! We’re accepting donations continuously, and even as we flatten the curve, the call for donations of any kind remains important,” DeVonna says. Her new role has been focused on what she calls dialing for donations, scheduling deliveries in advance so first responders know when to expect free meals, connecting with local charities and rotaries, and being an outreach person for those looking to donate.

It’s certain that everyone is anxious and ready for life to get back on track, yet DeVonna says with a smile that she feels grateful to be paying it forward during the pandemic. “It’s been a step back from our normal business. It’s a time of just helping others and doing the right thing. I feel so fortunate to help in this little way and make a difference.”

Crystal Gardens is looking forward to reopening as soon as it’s safe to do so, and will be continuing their free meals initiative as long as the community support is there. The complete information is available online as well through their donate button, and every donation truly matters. “Even if you don’t donate to our cause, please find somewhere that speaks to you,” DeVonna recommends. “Any amount of help is so greatly appreciated by those who need it most.”
Crystal Gardens would like to publicly thank their outstanding sponsors:

  • Brighton Chamber of Commerce
  • Hartland Chamber of Commerce
  • Howell Chamber of Commerce
  • Executive Wealth Management
  • Grace and Porta
  • PuroClean of Mid-Michigan
  • WHMI 93.5

If you would like to join this list of corporate sponsors or contribute with an individual donation, please email or call DeVonna Snowden at dsnowden@cgliv.com or (810) 844-1166, or Donate Now at cgliv.com.

Feeding Our Frontline Heroes