Market Worker Story: Tim
Tim can remember walking the alleyways of the Market as a child, poking in shops with family and visiting the independent bookstores. “My parents and grandparents moved out here and I could dimly remember this place from my childhood, it has been satisfying to see how things have changed and see what’s still the same,” he recalls.
Tim has spent the past five years working in the Market, as a restaurant server. He loves the bustle and fast-paced environment, explaining “it’s always been super busy here, always interesting and exciting.”
But all of that changed last year when COVID hit and the once crowded cafe became eerily empty. Tim remembers “everyone who was working at the time was just staring at the door, everything cleaned and ready, just trying to figure out what to do with our time.” Eventually, the restaurant had to temporarily close its doors. “It was completely logical at that point and unsurprising,” recalls Tim. “But it was also nerve-racking because I didn’t have any other sources of income, and every other job I’d really had [was reliant on being] in person, like the restaurant and retail business.”
That was when Tim’s manager connected him with The Market Commons. The Commons staff were able to jump into action and work with Tim to develop a support plan. Together they found resources that could help Tim weather the pandemic, everything from food assistance, utilities support to navigating unemployment. “It was tremendously reassuring to have that much to do to combat unemployment at that time, and have that direction going forward.” Tim said. In addition to helping get signed up for food stamps, the food access programs offered through The Commons were able to make those dollars go even further. Pike Bucks and Food Stamp matching dollars gave Tim the opportunity to purchase fruits, vegetables and protein from Market stands. “I’ve been using that to get some rockfish and black cod over at Pike Place Fish Market,” says Tim. “That’s been really nice for me. This program really puts it within reach.”
In all, The Market Commons provided over 10,000 interactions last year, reaching out to check in on senior residents, helping Market workers navigate public benefits while facing sudden unemployment or lost wages, and connecting low income shoppers to food programs. Food Access reached 3,655 Market shoppers, as well as created $124,635 in purchasing power that directly benefited both community members and vendors.
“To be able to shop with people that I know, people that I recognize in the market, people that start to recognize me… It really makes me feel like I’m like part of a community.”