Not all bartenders are undeserving arrogant snobs who do nothing but pour liquid into a cup. Some see the big picture and want to make a difference in the world, such as newly-minted Spirits on Bourbon bar manager Aja Reign, who will be donating all of her tips to the New Orleans Barman’s Fund on May 18.
The Barman’s Fund is group of bartenders, barbacks, servers and other food service industry professionals who raise money for good causes, selecting one night each month to donate 100 percent of their tips to local charities.
Bartender Brian Floyd founded the Barman’s Fund in 2011 while bartending at the Vanderbilt in Brooklyn, beginning as a simple “tip jar fund”. Since then, chapters have sprung up in four more cities around the United States, including Austin, New Orleans, Charlotte and Palm Beach.
The way it works is pretty simple. Any bartender, or service industry worker (usually one who earns tips) can join a chapter in the selected cities. Then the chapter selects one shift out of each month where they donate all of their tips to local charities.
“They don’t just throw money at the problem,” said Aja, who came to New Orleans from Los Angeles. “They try to be as tangible as possible. The city is still rebuilding itself. I would feel selfish not helping.”
Some local charities include Habitat For Humanity, or local food banks. Sometimes, according to Aja, members of the chapter will pool circumvent the charities and buy materials for people who need them the most, such as school supplies for children.
David Naser aka “Catfish”, director of the New Orleans chapter and bartender at Jimani on Iberville and Chartres streets in the French Quarter, says the Barman’s Fund is a simple and streamlined method for bartenders to donate their tips to charity.
“We work night to night, shift to shift. We don’t get a paycheck,” Naser said.
To date, The Barman’s Fund has donated $184,725.48, according to its Facebook page.
Also happening on May 18, the rubberduck derby and race, where the Nola chapter of the Barman’s Fund will be launching a mass of rubber ducks into Bayou St. John. Their goal is sell 250 ducks by Sunday (the 18th). The winners of the derby win cash and other prizes.