I’ll have what you get on the 2023 Rock and Roll Journey
Texas has a lot to offer. bustling urban cities. Ways wide open. Great food.What Texas does not have is affordable health care for millions of people. While many politicians brag about the Lone Star State’s attractiveness to big business and transplants from other states, they gloss over high maternal mortality rates and millions of Texans without health insurance.
Why voters still keep people in office who don’t care about women’s rights or affordable health care for their constituents is a topic for another time. However, there are some people in our city of Houston who are trying to alleviate human suffering caused by bad policies and corporate greed.
One such local organization is I’ll Get What You Have, a local 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to helping workers in the hospitality industry access life-saving medical exams, mental health counseling and reproductive health care. Founded in 2017 by Dr. Laurie Choi, Karen Mann, Lisa Seeger, Monica Pope, and Erin Smith, the group is a mix of Houston chefs, business owners, and doctors who saw a lack of affordable healthcare among employees in the food and beverage industry. Many other professionals have since joined to tackle problems that politicians and medical insurance companies seem indifferent to.
IHWSH is not the first local nonprofit organization geared toward helping those in the hospitality industry. The Southern Smoke Foundation has raised millions of dollars since its inception for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and for local restaurant workers and caterers who are struggling financially from the pandemic, natural disasters and medical emergencies.
The restaurant industry is not an easy industry and profit margins can be very low. It is very difficult for employers to offer any kind of health insurance to employees due to the high premiums. Too often, restaurant jobs are viewed as temporary work for young people despite the fact that millions of Americans work in the hospitality industry, supporting themselves and their families. Even with a decent income, the lack of medical insurance means many are one step closer to financial disaster if they become pregnant, diagnosed with cancer, or have a medical condition. Medicaid, which has been cut hard in Texas over the years, is often out of reach for workers who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford exorbitant premiums and deductibles from insurance companies.
Not only do uninsured or underinsured Texas women face financial and emotional problems with reproductive issues, but they also face the possibility of death. High maternal mortality rates in Texas is a tragic reality that disproportionately affects women of color.
The number one cause of maternal death is obstetric hemorrhage, according to Texas Tribune. The most common cause of postpartum bleeding is an ectopic pregnancy. However, there are lawmakers across the country who make medical decisions about healthcare bans for pregnant women because they don’t even know what an ectopic pregnancy is, as in the case of Brian Seitz of Missouri and Ohio state legislator John Baker. We’re sure a number of our Texas legislators are completely clueless.
And then there’s mental health care, a topic that our governor, Greg Abbott, and his fellow politicians often refer to every time a mass shooting occurs in Texas. However, psychiatrists and psychiatrists are very expensive and treatment is often not covered even if a person has medical insurance. This applies to behavioral problems and some medications as well.
This lack of access leaves many Texans vulnerable to physical, emotional, and financial problems. And sometimes grassroots organizations are the only hope when Americans fail because of their leadership.
When people in the restaurant and beverage industry need to raise money for themselves, they go to the best source to do so: feeding the people. Everyone loves a food festival or a fun-filled party and IHWSH has raised over $850,000 by hosting pop-up cooking classes and events.
This past weekend, I hosted my second annual rock and roll picnic at The Last Concert Cafe, 1403 Nance, to raise money through general admission tickets, VIP tables, curated private picnic parties and a silent auction.
My companion at the event was my friend Big Hair Kim, a former nurse who has worked as a community outreach for uninsured or uninsured Houstonians, many of whom are in the LGBTQ community. Hoping our car wouldn’t be pulled over in front of a broken meter, we made our way toward The Last Concert Cafe, a place I hadn’t been to in 20 years.
The event was held outdoors under a large permanent tent. Although the rain made it a little damp, the attendees were able to enjoy the food and drink available with nothing worse than frizzy hair and sandy feet.
We got three drink tickets so we headed towards the bar where several tattooed mixologists were making mocktails and cocktails. I ordered a smoked frozen mezcal margarita while my friend chose ranch water. Lisa Seeger, founding member of IHWSH and owner of Blue Heron Farm, welcomed everyone to the event and introduced musical performer Sarah Van Buskirk who played the first set.
Then we grabbed a few bites from some of the dining tables staffed by familiar local chefs. Blood Bros. teammates got BBQ is an interesting experience cake with a smoker tea moonVietnamese pork sausage. At another table, Nick Wong and his team were making a crunchy rice salad filled with herbs and raw vegetables while Magnol Bakery served slices of pretty baguettes and whole-grain loaves. With butter and Brittany salt, no less.
A cheese platter from Houston Dairymaids has earned local cheesemongers a new customer in my friend Big Haired Kim. We were both surprised by how soft the goat cheese was without an aggressive taste chevre Often. However, the cheese on the plate was particularly pungent.
A scoop of Laura Chenille’s goat cheese ice cream from Underground Creamery had a bit of a tangy bite but was beautifully balanced with Aleppo pepper sauce, tangerine oil, and candied pecans, making for a dreamy and delicious dessert. An Ice Cream Biscuit Sandwich filled with blueberry frozen custard was another delicious frozen treat from Honeychild Sweet Creams.
After indulging in meals made by the participating chefs, we had another round of drinks while listening to Marley Moon’s music off her new record. We’ve gone through the auction items and my friend is still upset that they’ve been outbid on dinner at home for ten from Kriti Kitchen.
Despite the rain, the bonhomie From like-minded people it was evident from young mothers with babies dangling across their chests to hospitality professionals embracing each other in appreciation. They were there for a cause, an issue that becomes more important each day as ordinary Texans become less important to those in our state legislature.
For those who work in the restaurant and bar industry without insurance, IHWSH may be able to assist with mammograms, Pap smears, contraceptives, and vasectomies. They also have mental health care options.
The organization is partnering with local healthcare providers to offer free IUDs, Nexplanon and vasectomy along with STD testing and more on May 20 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more information go to illhavettysheshaving.org. Applicants may also text, call 281-631-5667, or email (email protected)