Deer Park Quaranteam celebrates first anniversary

By: 
Ashley Wilson
Reporter

The Deer Park Quaranteam Facebook group was born this time last year after Emily Unger was inspired by Rick Clark’s work with Spokane Quaranteam. Clark’s passion for helping others during the difficult times of COVID shutdowns made Unger want to bring the same kind of help to her city. The popular Facebook group has grown to include over 2,000 members and is currently handled by Rachel Achurra. “How did I get involved? You're going to laugh.” reminisces Achurra. “Emily spelled Quaranteam differently than Rick did. I reached out to Emily and suggested she spell it the same so that people know the Deer Park group is similar.” Unger wasted no time in recruiting Achurra, who was eager to offer her assistance. “I love helping the community and felt called to be a part of it!”

The first Deer Park Quaranteam meal giveaway was at Rancho Alegre and the success of that event jump started a surge of support from the community. After they hosted a giveaway, which included a total of 12 restaurants and 8 coffee shops, they ended up being able to give back thousands of dollars. The coffee shops each received $250, the restaurants received between $500-$650 each, and then the remaining funds were used to purchase gift cards from local small businesses. Another one of the more successful events was at Loon Lake Pizza, where the DP Quaranteam crew was able to give out 100 meals. Achurra’s personal highlight moment took place in the earlier days of the group. “We delivered meals to the senior apartments over by the Elementary school. Seeing those folks light up was just the best!”

It’s not always easy running such a big group. Volunteers and helpers can be hard to come by. “It is hard to rally the troops sometimes and try to inspire others to do good.” says Achurra. “People love to have ideas but it's hard to find people who want to do the work.”
Luckily, there are still those who are willing to step up and Cheryl Joy is one of them. She teamed up with Deer Park Quaranteam on their 1 year anniversary to plan a “Shock N Claus” event. If you aren’t familiar, a Shock N Claus event is when you gather a large group of friends to eat at a local restaurant, have each person bring $50-$100, and then you gift the servers with an extra special tip. Joy’s event on December 17 took place at the Elk VFW Post 5924. “It is the only place in Elk that you can go for dinner. It is not on the highway so few people know about it. They open up to the public on Friday night,” says Joy, on why she picked this restaurant. “Each employee could go somewhere bigger and make more money, so we appreciate that they choose to stay in our little town.” Fourteen people ended up joining the dinner event and they gifted $958 to the servers of Elk VFW Post 5924. “Our hope is that it inspires others to give to those that have worked hard during the past 2 years.” Joy said.

Participating in these kinds of events is exactly what Achurra imagines as the future of Deer Park Quarateam. “I envision keeping the group about promoting small business, shopping local, and participating in awesome charitable events like Shock n Claus!” In the past year, there have been thousands of dollars raised and close to 1,000 meals provided, but Achurra doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Read more in the December 22, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune

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