$12,103,610
FUNDS DISTRIBUTED SINCE 2015
5,167
No-cost counseling sessions given
Who we help
Southern Smoke serves a population as diverse as the industry.

The information below reflects the overarching demographics of fund awardees and Behind You clients from our founding through today. As long as a person in need has worked in the industry for at least six months at 30+ hours/week, they are eligible to apply for support. What isn’t shown is each person’s story. To hear firsthand how donations have helped individuals, follow the smoke to Stories below.

Impact map
Emergency relief available
Emergency relief and mental
health resources available
HERE ARE JUST A FEW WAYS THE GOODWILL OF MANY HAVE HELPED IMPROVE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
“This organization hands down is everything. They spend their everyday lives working to help others. I am one of those "others." They have saved me from a lot since I was furloughed from my job. I never expected someone or some place to help me the way they did. I am truly thankful. This is what life should be about, helping and loving one another. Thank you.”
Server
Lexington, NC
“The grant I received from Southern Smoke was a beacon of hope. I was so scared, I was on the internet day and night, researching whatever I could find out about grants and loans. Southern Smoke was the very first one who emailed and said, 'We will help you.' It stopped my breath for a minute, I had to read it over and over again. ”
Restaurant Owner
New Orleans, LA
“We were like family at Spaghetti Warehouse, from the customers to my co-workers. I was a waiter there and I was being trained to become a manager…The storm seemed like it came out of nowhere and it really destroyed that restaurant. There was no way it was opening any time soon…I got kicked out of my apartment about two weeks after the storm because I couldn’t pay the rent. I heard about Southern Smoke from my mom and she said they were helping out people in the food and beverage industry…To get this money, it’s just incredible. It gives me my independence back, helps me provide for my three girls a little better. It gets me back on my feet and that means a lot…I love the restaurant business, it’s what I’ve done most of my adult life and I want to get back into it. You get the chance to make other people’s day better. That’s a great feeling.”
Server
Houston, TX
“I just want to say thank you so much. I am literally in tears right now. I was so afraid, particularly about my rent. I didn't know what I was going to do. I was scared I'd be homeless. I've let my Landlord know I'll be able to pay him in total. I'll also be able to get my phone back on. I'll be able to buy groceries. I am so grateful. I thank God for your organization.”
Server
Chicago, IL
“Just wanted to take a moment to encourage my industry friends to apply to the #SouthernSmoke foundation if you’re in need of financial assistance. I just received an email that I will be receiving a grant! They truly have lifted a weight off of my shoulders, and I hope that this post can help fellow industry members that may be struggling. It’s a long application process, but it’s totally worth it!”
Bartender
Chicago, IL
“Gracias por su ayuda y sobre todo por ser tan profesional porque usted me hizo sentir importante y sobre todo me dió la oportunidad de interactuar con usted no limitó mi sentir. Me sentí muy confortable y tuve confianza en usted, es por eso que pude mandarle todo los documentos que me pidió, porque cuando siento que no es amable o paciente me pongo nerviosa y me paralizo haciendo que no pueda encontrar nada de lo que necesitaba para enviarle. De verdad fue un gusto comunicarme con usted y sea el resultado que sea que tomen usted ya me dio el estímulo más valioso de una persona que muy pocos tienen y me siento agradecida por haberla tratado. Siga así nunca cambie. Dios le bendiga.”
Server
Chicago, IL
“We pretty much lost everything on our 500 acres with the hurricane. We estimate our total loss at about $400,000. It really devastated us. But the money that we received from Southern Smoke allows us to buy more seeds, replant and restart. We’re very grateful.”
Farmer
Wharton, TX
“It's all a bit overwhelming and incredibly touching. Honestly, I'm at a loss for words. It's so wonderful of him. Not everybody has a friend who could pull off something this amazing. Chris doesn't think small.”
Antonio Gianola
Southern Smoke Honoree and Inspiration
“You have no idea how ELATED I am to receive this news!! I really appreciate you and all of your partners and the donors of Southern Smoke, and a special shoutout to Alison for working with me on my case and being super patient while I gathered all of the necessary information. If there is anything I can do to pay it forward to your organization now or in the future, please let me know. I am currently looking around at my apartment, and my 4 year old son, and feel a sense of relief. We are going to be OKAY. And I hope the same for the future of myself and my fellow service industry workers.”
Bartender
Metairie, LA
“My children and I lost almost everything in the storm. It was beyond devastating. Our house is only a shell of what it once was. We were so grateful to hear what Southern Smoke was doing for the people of Houston. We are blown away be the generosity of this organization. We can't wait to get floors and furniture for our home and replace some of my childrens’ things.”
Bartender
Houston, TX
“We had a foot of water in our home and we ended up having to get rescued. It was awful and with a 2-year-old baby and my 11-year-old daughter, it was incredibly hard. The whole bottom floor of our home was ruined and we didn’t have flood insurance. We were able to get some help from FEMA but it definitely wasn’t enough to cover what we had. You just don’t realize how much money this is going to be—replacing furniture, walls, cabinets. Southern Smoke was a huge blessing for us. We’re incredibly thankful for this extra support.”
Restaurant Manager
Seabrook, TX
“I am deeply grateful and in tears. My heart is full. I don't know how to explain this feeling I’ve never felt before. I’ve never been helped like this before then again I’ve never been in this situation. I feel like I can breathe again. Southern Smoke has given me hope and helped me when I need help the most. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart! I have so much I want to say how thankful, grateful and blessed I feel. This is a very emotional moment for me and I’m at loss for words. God bless you and everyone at Southern Smoke Foundation for helping people like me. Please thank everyone there for me. I would hug all of you if I could.”
Restaurant Manager
Chicago, IL
“Y'all I can't begin to thank Southern Smoke enough for this! It was a lot of paperwork and panic. But this foundation just saved me and my littlest from being homeless NEXT WEEK as well as being able to continue supporting my middle daughter I have 1/2 the time whose dad is also a bartender/ server and out of work. My family is gonna be ok for the next month because of these awesome people and their sponsors. My little daughter and I literally cried tears of joy when I received this. THANK YOU SOUTHERN SMOKE! Not all heroes wear capes! (sometimes they wear aprons 😉)”
Server
Sarasota, FL
“I am forever grateful to Southern Smoke for financially supporting my family during this dark time. Your support definitely gives us the energy to keep moving forward, and to keep fighting for the best future for Jeff! And I pray for the day I can share this amazing letter of support with my brother, to hold his hand and tell him just how much his restaurant family stood up and helped him on a path of recovery. AND my mother is just so relieved! THANK YOU- above and beyond. If I could insert 10 crying emojis I would. You guys are amazing and really do take care of your own!”
Grantee
Chicago, IL
“I don't know what my children and myself would have done this month without this organization. Pre-Corona I had bartended at a great place in South Florida up until this point. I loved my job and made great money, overnight my livelihood vanished. Thank you so much Southern Smoke for the grant you provided me. I am now able to pay my rent and other bills as well as get medications I desperately need. When I come out on the other side of this I will do whatever I can do to pay it forward. This is such a huge blessing you all have gave me. One million thank yous still wouldn't be enough. Y'all are undercover heroes. God bless you. Thank you.”
Bartender
South Florida
Distribution of funds
2015
October
$181,000
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Houston Chapter, In honor of Antonio Gianola, Houston sommelier living with MS
2016
November
$282,000
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Houston Chapter, In honor of Antonio Gianola, Houston sommelier living with MS
2017
November
$5,000
Napa and Sonoma County Fire Relief, In honor of the wine growers in Napa and Sonoma who suffered from tragic fires.
October
$501,000
Hurricane Harvey Relief, Assistance for 139 members of the food and beverage industry affected by Hurricane Harvey.
$10,000
Legacy Community Health, In honor of their partnership with Southern Smoke Festival 2017 and their distribution of funds to 139 people affected by Hurricane Harvey.
2018
October
$116,522
September
$10,000
Hurricane Florence Relief, In honor of Vivian Howard and Sam Jones.
$200,000
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Houston Chapter, In honor of Antonio Gianola, Houston sommelier living with MS
April
$10,000
Gulf Seafood Foundation’s Helping Hands Effort, Provides work gloves to Gulf fishermen affected by Hurricane Harvey and Irma.
2019
December
$41,310
November
$25,658
October
$100,000
National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Houston Chapter In honor of Antonio Gianola, Houston sommelier living with MS
$48,896
August
$10,000
July
$9,462
June
$10,000
May
$30,784
April
$2,260
March
$5,000
B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Provides funds to help cover staff payroll following a fire.
$6,500
February
$8,635
2020
December
$284,317
November
$169,755
October
$229,400
September
$282,885
August
$200,225
July
$334,639
June
$985,984
May
$677,782
April
$1,138,047
March
$150,377
February
$3,916
January
$24,486
2021
December
$142,780
November
$91,140
October
$112,655
September
$241,634
August
$174,470
July
$175,055
June
$386,430
May
$227,937
April
$275,610
March
$625,523
February
$691,426
January
$256,226
2022
December
$50,550
November
$96,070
October
$117,605
September
$54,910
August
$96,710
July
$46,870
June
$39,410
May
$43,910
April
$33,130
March
$57,600
February
$45,520
January
$174,815
2023
December
$73,485
November
$142,860
October
$50,135
September
$140,470
August
$218,220
July
$60,355
June
$43,830
May
$80,280
April
$71,270
March
$75,325
February
$52,850
January
$53,655
2024
June
$106,617
May
$305,450
April
$125,990
March
$107,040
February
$80,240
January
$100,926