On March 15th, murmurs in the lift lines of Grand Targhee speculated that it might be closing day. Colorado and Montana ski resorts were shutting down rapidly. Jackson Hole had officially closed it’s tram. Despite rapid closures, COVID-19 didn’t seem very serious yet.
Less than a week later, as lockdowns shut down non-essential businesses, Teton Valley, Idaho began to feel like a different place. People began to worry about their health, signs popped up on main streets thanking essential workers. Many wondered if the businesses of a small mountain town, with an economy reliant on tourism, could weather months of lockdown.
Two weeks after the lockdown began, Corrine Wicke and Devin Dwyer began looking for a way to help the community.
“We were both looking for a way to help our community, given the drastic closure in the middle of March. Corinne had posted to the Community Facebook page looking for volunteer options. I texted her to see if she wanted to start something together,” said Devin Dwyer. “We spoke by phone, chose a name, set up a website and Venmo and launched on Saturday April 11th.”
Corrine Wicke is an architect at Northworks in Jackson Hole. Devin Dwyer works as a property manager, concierge and pilates teacher, as well as being the festival manager for Wydaho Rendezvous Bike Festival.
As school districts closed, Wicke had to transition to working from home while juggling her two children. Dwyer’s work slowed down as guests left her properties in March. “I’m not someone that sits still well, I thrive having too much to do,” said Dwyer “I felt like the first few weeks of quarantine was a good way to reset and prioritize what I want to focus on moving forward.”
Inspired by The Hole Quarantine, a non-profit created in response to COVID-19 in the neighboring community of Jackson Hole, Dwyer and Wicke started Teton Valley Boost. Teton Valley Boost takes donations from the local community and uses those donations to support small local businesses by purchasing food, drinks or gift cards. Those gift cards, food and drinks are gifted to essential workers.
Over the following 7 weeks, Teton Valley Boost has supported 26 local businesses and raised over $10,000. Their current fundraising objective is to support Teton High School graduating class and Teton Valley School District staff. Their goal is to raise $700 by June 4th, 2020.
“Dropping off deliveries of food and goods to essential workers has been a blast. It boosts morale and shows our support for the workers that have been on the front lines since lock down began in the middle of March,” said Dwyer. “Another rewarding aspect is the appreciation we get when we make sure to tip 20% on food orders, servers that are used to getting tips when patrons dine in, have not been receiving the same courtesy with take-out orders. We’re happy that we have been able to support employees of restaurants in this way.”
Throughout the past 2 months of lockdown, Teton Valley Boost continued to see a rise in support and increased donations. Teton Valley residents were happy to find a way to give back to essential workers and support small businesses while doing it. As Phase I reopening has begun, donations have slowed down, but Teton Valley Boost still aims to continue supporting essential workers and businesses through the reopening phase and into the summer.
“We believe our community needs the support and the essential workers are still at risk, especially as summer travel ramps up,” said Dwyer. “We want to keep our community safe and supported. We are shifting our ways of fundraising and have some fun new prospective plans for the summer.”
Teton Valley Boost hopes to keep their forward momentum and to continue working with local artists and businesses but they have no plans of officially becoming an established and long-term non-profit organization. Once the community is back on its feet, Wicke and Dwyer will shift back to supporting the community on a smaller scale. Dwyer plans to start her own property management and grocery delivery business in Teton Valley this summer.
A message from Devin and Corrine: “We greatly appreciate everyone’s generosity and support over the last 6 weeks. Please if you can, continue to support Teton Valley Boost. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy as our community begins to reopen!”
If you’d like to support Teton Valley Boost, please visit https://www.tetonvalleyboost.com/ or donate to @TetonValleyBoost on Venmo.