At the very moment that most businesses and their employees were being hit the hardest by the economic repercussions of the pandemic, Neha and Ajit Jadhav purchased thousands of dollars worth of gift cards from three local restaurants and donated them to local first responders and health care workers.
The Jadhavs have owned Baymont Inn & Suites in Warrenton since 2004 and bought the Warrenton Holiday Inn Express last year. Talking to them, their positivity is such that one can easily forget that the hotel industry was one of the industries most severely impacted by the pandemic.
“If you’re in a situation where you can help, you have to help. There’s not really an option,” Ajit Jadhav explained matter-of-factly in a June 19 interview.
In late March and early April, the Jadhavs purchased through their Holiday Inn Express business a total of $10,800 in gift cards in $15 increments from three Warrenton restaurants: Foster’s Grille, Ledo Pizza and Tippy’s Tacos. The gift cards were then distributed to the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office, Warrenton Police Department, Fauquier County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Management and Fauquier Health.
They credited their hotels’ managers, Cindy Steele and Michelle Manuel, with working out the logistics of the donations with the restaurants and receiving organizations.
In addition to the gift card donations, the Jadhavs have also donated $3,000 each to Fauquier FISH and the Fauquier Community Food Bank through their hotel business. Neha Jadhav said that a rate plan was already in place in which 5% of some revenue is donated to the FCFB.
The Jadhavs said they wanted to help first responders and health care workers while also helping the local economy and employees of local restaurants. “We were brainstorming, “How do we do this?” Ajit Jadhav said. “We wanted to do something that takes the stress out of [first responders’] lives.”
“Neha came up with the idea of gift cards to help local restaurants,” he explained. “We wanted to keep the work in Warrenton and the surrounding network … it’s a bit of a loop.” He said at another point, “The community has given to us over the years, it was just a matter of principle that we would go ahead with our plan.”
“We’re extremely appreciative,” said Tony Edwards, owner of Warrenton’s Ledo Pizza. The effects of the pandemic on the business “have definitely been hard,” he added, “But we’re definitely blessed to have a great customer base who kept supporting us through takeout orders.”
The Jadhavs have two sons. “Part of this,” Ajit Jadhav said, “is teaching them the values, the nature of community involvement, how one aspect of a community affects the others. And that includes yourself.”
Neha Jadhav added, “We wanted the community to know that we’re all in this together.”
An April 22 letter signed by Sheriff Bob Mosier thanked the Jadhavs for the donation. “Your generosity sent a message to our deputies that you care about them and are thinking of them,” the letter said. “Please accept our heartfelt thanks for your unselfish compassion for the dedicated men and women who protect our community.”
Warrenton Police Department Public Information Officer Chai Fuller said that everyone in the department received a gift card. “We are so fortunate to serve and protect a great community. We really appreciate everything the community does for us!” she said in a June 22 email.
Through Fauquier Health’s spokesperson, Sarah Cubbage, certified nursing assistant Nyrie Nicolai, of Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, expressed her thanks for the gift cards. “I shared with my kids. They loved it. And I liked that I didn’t have to cook!” she said.
The Jadhavs said that while their business struggled at the beginning of the pandemic, they’ve been encouraged by positive signs recently. “We’ve had a very loyal team of employees,” Ajit Jadhav said. “The team started working really hard and we started picking up business a little faster than the rest of the industry.”
Neha Jadhav elaborated, “It’s not back to normal, but at least we’re staying afloat.”
Reach Coy Ferrell at firstname.lastname@example.org