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Living out the ‘St Pete Way’: St. Pete Virtual Tip Jar

Megan Holmes



The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights. 

On this episode of Chamber Coronavirus Impact Insights, Adriana Generallo, VP of Client Experience at Big Sea joins Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber and Joe Hamilton, publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst to talk about her special project to help out St. Petersburg service workers, St. Pete Virtual Tip Jar.

Before Adriana joins the show, Hamilton and Steinocher discuss the new feature that the Catalyst launched this week, its new Interactive Map of Covid-19 cases by zip code. Hamilton explains the thought process behind the Catalyst and the ideal ratio of Catalyst content, which he says is 50 percent St. Pete Catalyst journalists, 25 percent submitted content from readers and 25 percent thoughtful comments.

Hamilton particularly emphasized the recent example of the St. Pete Catalyst‘s coverage of the rebranding of the State Theatre to the Floridian Social Club. The article prompted a comment that the Catalyst published as a Community Voices piece.

“This is exactly what we’re hoping to do,” Hamilton says. “To make it a safe space to come for good conversations, so that smart people can put their thinking out there without it being disrupted or stolen away.”

Then, Generallo joins the discussion to talk about her creative social impact project, St. Pete Virtual Tip Jar. Generallo, who has lived in St. Pete since 2012, said that the idea for her project came when she and her wife Jess were out to get coffee one day, mid-pandemic. “I thought, I can’t imagine how much this is impacting people’s tips,” Generallo explains. As a former service industry worker, Generallo knew that workers must be struggling. So she did some research and found that other cities were doing virtual tip jars.

A virtual tip jar is a simple directory that allows users to tip service industry workers that would normally be receiving daily tips. “It just allows individuals to connect directly to virtual payment apps like Venmo or PayPal,” Generallo explains, “to send them a tip and to let them know they’re not forgotten just because we’re not out socially in these establishments.”

“What I see on these pages are people’s faces,” Steinocher says. “Human beings. They’ve got families and kids and animals. And they’re putting themselves out there asking for resources.”

In just a few short weeks, St. Pete Virtual Tip Jar has more than 1,000 service workers in the directory and an average of 30 workers join the directory each day. It has gathered workers from Tampa, St. Pete Beach and other cities in the Tampa Bay area.

“It’s people-first,” Generallo says. She sees no reason to exclude or deny anyone outside of the city bounds just because of their geographic location. That mindset, Steinocher says, is “the St. Pete Way” in its most organic form.


Are you a server? Put your face on the St. Pete Virtual Tip Jar:

Are you a patron? Find your favorite server and give them a tip:

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