ORLANDO, Fla. – There’s a new group making an impact on the lives of thousands of furloughed Disney employees.
The Facebook group page is Ear For Each Other and it was founded by Maxine Wild and three friends, two of which have been laid off by Disney World amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Half the battle when there’s a big change is just knowing where to begin,” Wild said.
The New Jersey native and wedding consultant for Disney came up with the idea after seeing a Facebook post of a former Disney chef.
“We had seen on Facebook a former chef and they were baking bread. I thought maybe there’s something to it and maybe we could encourage people to think differently about how their talents could be used moving forward,” Wild said. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if they sold their bread?’”
The post sparked a conversation with her friends Marisa Mansour, Amy Baker and Kerri MacPherson.
“I thought, ‘You know, what if every working cast member did one nice thing for every furloughed cast member? Wouldn’t we be able to make a difference?’” Wild said.
Soon after, the page was launched and now has more than 12,000 members. Half of them are Disney cast members who have been furloughed or laid off.
“They can come here for inspiration, for information, for fun, and also to what I refer to as #shopfurloughed,” Wild said. “There’s a lot of comraderies; there’s a lot of networking.”
The Facebook page serves as a resource and a place where Disney members who have been furloughed or laid off can showcase their creative side and promote their side hustle. From cooking to home decor, there’s a variety of skills highlighted on the page.
“Furloughed cast members are working together. So, we had an artisan who created a logo for another cast member. One of the interesting things that has occurred with the page is that folks in the community are sharing job opportunities for the future,” Wild, who has been with Disney for 23 years, said.
Liborio García is one of the page members. He left his hometown in Mexico in 2004 to enlist in Disney’s international college program.
“It’s just incredible the amount of talents and skills that they have. I do, as you can see behind me, a little bit of painting and woodworking,” García said. “I do love it. It’s something that I started doing slowly over 10 years ago.”
García said the Disney family supporting each other is something that’s common within the community -- even outside of work.
“I think that making magic for all of us behind the scenes is just also something natural for all of us,” García said.
After completing his studies, he got his start working in guest relations. He moved up to Disney’s cruise line and is now furloughed.
It’s a community that’s keeping the magic alive even through hard times.
“It is an incredible moment to see folks reaching out and wanting to help one another and it makes me very proud,” Wild said.
The Facebook page Ear for Each Other is for Disney cast members who are struggling to make ends meet. They can post and promote their skills and services. Members of the community can join to show support by buying merchandise, offering words of encouragement, or to post about job openings and craft fairs opportunities.