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High Risk At High Altitude: How Local Service Industry Workers Are Faring During The Pandemic

Jan 5, 2021

Back in 2019, licensed clinical social worker and therapist Kathleen Callahan was approached by Lindze Letherman and Quinn Gallagher about starting a mental health support group for hospitality and restaurant workers.

Letherman and Gallagher both work at Hooch, in downtown Aspen, and offered the space as a meeting place for local service industry workers to talk about their unique challenges and support each other. Since the pandemic hit, the group “Hospitality Matters,” hasn’t been meeting in-person, but they’ve continued their meet-ups virtually.

“With Hospitality Matters, a lot of people have hooked up together and they’re developing their own, what we call ‘family pods,’” Callahan explained since the group went online. “They’re not related, but they hang out together so they’re not alone.”

Callahan has kept an open door policy for regular or prospective clients since the pandemic hit. She said figuring out how to stay connected is an important part of developing better mental health habits for Roaring Fork Valley restaurant workers.

“What happens is that they all get together and they work really hard and they’re a family and then we get offseason, and they’re isolated and alone,” said Callahan.

Arts and culture reporter Kirsten Dobroth spoke to Callahan about the importance of destigmatizing asking for help for this important part of the local workforce and population.