Creating connections and lending a helping hand are the cornerstone of La Vida Hospitality and its Celebrate Wellness initiative, committed to promoting wellness to improve lives for community members and hospitality workers. This is achieved through education, financial support and connections to wellness experts.
“La Vida Hospitality created our Celebrate Wellness initiative because there is a profound need to focus on it in the hospitality industries,” said Josh Grapski, managing partner. “Our industry is made up of primarily young people who are seeking financial opportunity, but still trying to figure out life. Offering them education on all facets of wellness is a benefit we think will have large value to them.”
Led by Kathy McDonald, director of community development, La Vida’s Celebrate Wellness program has hosted two free wellness sessions for hospitality workers and the community. The first, led by Ryan Ennis and Lo Tibbitts from Beyond the Bar, focused on techniques and tips for hospitality workers to Crush Summer. The program showed how to create an achievable savings plan and budget, how to plan healthy meals to stay energized throughout the long summer shifts, and ways to alleviate stress and come through summer healthy and with a nice chunk of money in the bank.
The second session was led by Dr. Uday Jani, an integrative health physician. He spoke about eating the rainbow of all the brightly colored fruits and vegetables, the benefits of fermented foods and probiotics for good gut health, tips for lowering inflammation and methods for relaxation through breathwork.
Five more sessions are planned throughout the year, and each will focus on at least one of the seven aspects of wellness: social, intellectual, physical, environmental, emotional, spiritual and financial. The goal is for individuals to check in with themselves, evaluate how they are doing, and highlight any imbalances that might be preventing them from living a happy and healthy life. Wellness is an active process in which an individual becomes aware of and makes choices toward a more healthy life.
McDonald often says, “It feels good to give,” and that’s what Celebrate Wellness is all about — giving back to the industry and the people it impacts. The special initiative will provide resources MdDonald said she wishes she was equipped with when stepping into the hospitality world 40 years ago. Recently, she made the switch from catering to community, and she hasn’t looked back since. For more than 10 years, McDonald was La Vida’s catering director, and now she’s excited to divert her energy to what she loves most, the community.
Giving fuels McDonald’s passion for what she does every day. Leading the charge behind the development of Celebrate Wellness, she is active in the community and steadfast in dedicating her time to important causes. Running holiday bike drives, volunteering at the Community Resource Center, and serving on the board of directors at the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce are a few ways she serves the community. As Celebrate Wellness director, McDonald will spearhead efforts for the community-focused initiatives to invest in the mental, emotional, physical and nutritional wellness of industry workers and local neighbors.
Celebrate Wellness program sponsors currently include Sysco, Carl M. Freeman Foundation, Midway Fitness, Schell Brothers and Ocean Atlantic-Sotheby’s.
By fall 2023, La Vida organizers hope the program has raised enough funding to financially support those in hospitality who seek better wellness and may not be able to afford expert advice. Any hospitality worker who is unable to afford needed treatment for emotional, physical or financial wellness will be supported with the funds raised. This will include connections to financial advisors, nutritional professionals, and mental health experts and therapists. Funds raised will be not for profit, used solely for investment in individuals in the hospitality industry, and geared toward offering services through expert partnerships to expand assistance with wellness.