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Iowa bed and breakfast offers free housing and food for first responders

Photo courtesy of Big Blue Bed and Breakfast - Big Blue Bed and Breakfast in Adel is offering free beds and food for medical personnel and first responders who need to isolate from their families at home.

Laurie Tigges’ bed and breakfast sat empty in Adel — its rooms untouched and void of the wedding parties and spring break visitors the home would typically beckon.

In the interest of safety, Tigges, the owner of Big Blue Bed and Breakfast, closed her business to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in town. But she still had a home with eight beds and clean sheets, working laundry machines, a full-sized kitchen and satellite television.

Tigges, a former emergency room technician, learned about medical personnel’s rising concerns of coming home from work and spreading COVID-19 to their loved ones. Some people slept in campers, tents or garages to isolate.

After speaking with her family, she decided to offer the home for medical personnel and first responders for free.

“It’s a place people can come because they’re scared or know they shouldn’t go home,” Tigges said.

She posted a photo of the house on Facebook with a note: “I used to work in the ER, and we want to do anything we can to help.”

The next thing she knew, businesses from around Adel were offering to help.

Residents offered to bring groceries to workers in the home, so they wouldn’t have to worry about leaving and spreading the virus to the public. Big Al’s BBQ and Adel Family Fun Center offered meals. Harmony Hall, a local events business, offered “glamping” space as well.

On Friday, Tigges received her first housing request from a phlebotomist at Mercy Hospital who asked the cost of a room. She was excited to tell her: The stay is free and she could stay as long as needed.

“She said, ‘I’m so scared I’m going to bring this home.’ She doesn’t want to put anyone else at risk,” Tigges said. “Not everyone has the money to stay in a hotel and they shouldn’t have to.”

While medical workers and emergency responders are overwhelmed with responding to COVID-19 and trying to stay healthy, those in the hospitality industry like Tigges are enduring the brunt of the economic hardships from COVID-19. Wedding cancellations and postponed events caused her to lose $4,000 in just two days.

But she said helping others in need and witnessing people in Adel come together has brought her a new sense of fulfillment — one that lets her know that when the pandemic passes, things will be OK.

“For a little while I was stressed, but there is this comfort of knowing everybody is going through this – it’s a global thing,” Tigges said. “There’s this community feeling.”

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