Mark Reid, manager of Hemingway’s Restaurant & Bar, Jomtien, was the guest speaker at the Wednesday, October 14 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC). His topic, The Good That Comes From The Bad, was based on the ongoing story of one response to the food crisis (The Good) during the worst of the Covid lockdown (The Bad) and how this grew into the ongoing Pattaya Food Bank Program (The Good Continues).
When the initial “lockdown” came to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, many businesses were required to close, including his restaurant. Due to these critical circumstances, many people in Thailand found themselves in dire straits, with either very little income or none at all. Mark said he discovered this when he took the opportunity while his restaurant was closed to go about Jomtien for exercise. This gave him the opportunity to look around and he noticed that there were many that appeared to be in need of food and shelter.
This gave him the idea to create Hemingway’s Restaurant & Bar’s Corona Food Appeal. Initially, he used Hemingway’s Facebook page to appeal for 30,000 baht in donations to create food survival packs to hand out to those in need. They exceeded their goal, and with the help of others including volunteers from his former staff, they purchased food and some other items and created individual survival packs.
Mark showed several slides showing their first delivery and subsequent deliveries of the packs. They described how they were able to expand their efforts in the Jomtien area, including helping invalids. As he showed his photos, he mentioned several of the folks, both in Pattaya and outside of Thailand, who helped out including Paul Taylor, who obtained his consent and created a Go Fund Me Page which raised 180,000 baht.
In visiting areas where the needy were located, he realized that many were without shelter. This led to their “Tent” project, whereby they purchased and gave away tents to provide shelters. In some cases, especially with families that included invalids, they sought and obtained lodgings. For some they assisted, all they needed was a helping hand to get them back on their feet. Mark was proud to note several families did get back on their feet, obtaining jobs to again earn an income that would provide for their needs without need for further assistance. However, some have only found part time jobs or are in some way handicapped; thus, they are still in need.
Mark mentioned one big drawback they had was when Pattaya barred non-residents and set up barriers on Sukhumvit Road. This kept them from seeking out those in east Pattaya that were in need. Once the barriers came down, they did expand into that area with one of their first visits to a labor camp on Chaiyapruek 2 Road followed by a visit to the Nongprue area.
One event was the “Mango Mission.” Mark said they were informed about a mango farm located one and a half hour drive from Pattaya that had many mangos available to harvest before they went bad. He formed a group, they traveled in 3 vehicles, and picked about 400 kilos of mangos in 3 hours. They gave 200 kilos to the Father Ray Foundation, 100 kilos to the Hand to Hand Foundation, and the rest to the Mercy Center, with some held back for delivery to individuals.
Mark also mentioned that they also helped the Father Ray Foundation and assisted other charitable organizations in assisting those in need. From the initial beginning, they have since created the Pattaya Food Bank Program to carry on the activities they started. Their efforts can be followed on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PattayaFoodBankProgram/ (the May 27 post has a summary of their many accomplishments including having raised almost 600,000 baht).
Mark is 48 years old and has lived and worked in Thailand for 21 years, and an expat for 24 years, half of his life. Of the time he has spent in Thailand, 11 of those years have been in Pattaya and 10 years previously in Koh Samui. He has been manager of Hemingway’s Restaurant & Bar for the past four years.
After Mark’s presentation, the MC brought everyone up to date on the latest announcements and called on member Bob Smith to conduct the Open Forum, where attendees can make comments or ask questions about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.