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CDAIDE provides emergency aid for hospitality workers

Jason Nye finds niche in helping hospitality workers.

By Kaye Hult

CDAIDE steps in to provide emergency relief to hospitality workers, said Jason Nye, its executive director.

He offered some examples of how the nonprofit has helped.

• A young mother, who is a hospitality worker, had a drunk driver plow through the rental unit she shared with her young son. She didn't have the funds to find a new place to live.

CDAIDE paid the first and last month's deposit on a new apartment.

• A restaurant had to close because of an electrical fire. The employees were out of work and unemployment insurance would not come in time to pay the next month's rent.

CDAIDE helped employees pay rent while the restaurant was being repaired.

• A woman service worker experienced extreme tooth pain from an infection that required dental surgery. She did not have the funds to pay for it.

CDAIDE helped her pay for the surgery, so she could return to work pain free.

"We help people who have worked in hospitality for at least three months," said Jason. "As part of our Christian background, our focus is showing our neighbors love by helping them through life crises, with no strings attached."

CDAIDE's mission is to "serve Coeur d'Alene-area hospitality workers by meeting their immediate needs, connecting them with resources for long-term self-sufficiency and ensuring they feel valued, respected and loved."

"They must live in Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls or Hayden," Jason said, "and they must be referred by another person, a sponsor who is aware of their need, preferably a supervisor or coworker."

Not long after Jason, his wife and four children moved to Coeur d'Alene from the Seattle area in 2020, he decided to leave the for-profit world, where he had worked with Microsoft and Amazon.

"I wanted to do something that made a difference in the world," he said.

He randomly found an ad for the CDAIDE position. Although he had not worked in a nonprofit organization before, he read through the job description and decided he could do that work.

"I have a heart for helping those in hospitality. I worked in large restaurant chains to put myself through college," he recalled. "The minimum wage for servers here in Idaho is $3.35 an hour. When I was working in the Old Spaghetti Factory in Utah, I was making $2.30 an hour.

"Working my backside off to pay for school, I understand just how difficult hospitality work is. Even though I was doing my best, there was much I couldn't control. Always, in the back of my mind, I worried about how to meet financial challenges," he said.

Jason explained that in many states, like Idaho, there is a separate minimum wage for hospitality workers because they are expected to receive tips.

In CDAIDE's end-of-the-year thank-you letter to sponsors and donors, Donna Brundage, board president, commented on tips.

"It is still legal in Idaho to pay a server $3.35 an hour," she wrote. "The remainder of the salary is hypothetically to be paid by the customer. In fact, servers are taxed on eight percent of their sales, whether they make that or not. So, if someone chooses not to tip at least eight percent, the server actually pays to wait on that table."

Because of his college jobs, Jason understands that servers' lives are precarious.

"Hospitality workers are an under-served population," he said. "When I began working with CDAIDE, I didn't know any other organizations that were doing this. That's what steered me to this position. 

"I have empathy for service workers, such as servers, cooks, maids and bartenders. I am doing this out of a passion to serve, to help others," he said.

Jason works with two other staff. Cindy Ackland is the program manager and software expert. Candice Randall, the care counselor, meets recipients.

CDAIDE, which is now putting together an events committee for their April Charity Gala, relies on volunteers.

In 2014, CDAIDE came into being as a mission of First Presbyterian Church in Coeur d'Alene. Church members were seeking a way to show love for neighbors in the community, living out their mission to Love 1st.

As they studied the downtown, where their church building is located, they realized how many restaurants, hotels and motels Coeur d'Alene has, all of which require hospitality workers.

Big Table in Spokane similarly helps those in hospitality who struggle. That group was instrumental in helping this new mission get up and running.

By 2016, the church realized that its mission had grown large enough that it needed to become a nonprofit. CDAIDE was born. By 2018, it had become a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

"We are trying to prevent the slide into homelessness for an at-risk group of people," Jason said.

"Most hospitality workers are part of the ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population here. We are able to help these folks who are just getting by, but whose lives can be disrupted by financial crises or unexpected money hurdles."

Jason grew up in Bothell, Wash., a place that was then like Coeur d'Alene, with woods and streams through which to roam. Since his youth, he has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which instilled his value of loving his neighbors.

After graduating from high school in 2000, he attended Brigham Young University for a couple years before becoming involved in an e-commerce start-up and dropping out of school.

"I soon realized my mistake," he said. "I returned to school in 2013, to further my career and, by completing my education, to encourage my two daughters to go to college."

He studied communications at the University of Washington full time, worked full time, was raising his children and was a Scout leader. He graduated summa cum laude in 2015.

"Going back to school later in life, I gained understanding of time management and dedication. I understood the value of being prepared vs. procrastinating," he said. "College was easier the second time. I found time to do what needed doing."

Moving into the nonprofit sector with his work at CDAIDE, he has found that a major concern is to raise enough funds to carry out the mission.

"It can be stressful," he said. "Stories of the challenges some community members face daily are heartbreaking, but they hide their struggles behind a smile while at work.

"I worry about receiving enough from grants, sponsors and donors to provide help for them," he said.  "The possibility of any hospitality worker slipping into homelessness is real.It's one financial burden away."

In October, CDAIDE held their third successful Chef Challenge, in which local chefs compete to win a championship belt and the title of 2023 Chef Challenge winner.

"It is growing," he said. "Tickets were sold out two months early in 2023. Chefs and restaurants are already reaching out and planning for 2024."

CDAIDE is preparing for a spring event, the Sixth Annual Care Affair, April 11, at the Coeur d'Alene Resort.

"With ties to the service industry, many restaurants help, donating chefs or gift cards to support their neighbors," he said.

"Restaurants live with slim profit margins," Jason added, "but providing a chef or a gift card is a great way to offer CDAIDE support as we support them.

"When people support us, they are helping their family, friends and neighbors who are struggling with inflation, increased housing costs, reduced work hours in the winter and other area financial hurdles," he said.

"At the end of the day, I want to feel like I've made a difference. Helping people improve their situation makes me feel like I'm doing something that matters."

For information, call 425-894-8207 or email

Copyright@ The Fig Tree, January 2024