Across the country, small businesses are closing in record numbers. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, recent data from Harvard-funded tracktherecovery.org found a 20 percent decrease in the number of small businesses open, relative to January 2020. In Montgomery county alone, this number is recorded at a staggering 28 percent, reflecting not just an enormous amount of business closures, but the economic devastation for business owners and workers that occurs with each one.
But amid further shutdowns from the state, three Conshohocken brothers — Nick, Chris, and J.P. Hussey — are continuing to do their civic part to provide free bagged meals to those in need.
CNS Insurance and The Hussey Team Mortgage Advisors, recognizing the financial struggles many are facing in their neighborhood, partnered as a family to fill the economic void that government has abysmally failed to help fill, and has created, during the Covid-19 pandemic. This family business has stepped in where the government has failed, by putting food on the table in the greater Conshohocken community.
“We just came up with an idea to start putting food out for people less fortunate if they need it,” said J.P. Hussey, a co-owner of the Hussey Team Mortgage Advisors. “It was more my wife, with a Social Work background. It was really her idea and we just started doing it.”
The informal, civic-minded charity of the family started gathering attention on social media. “People started seeing us go Facebook live with it, all that stuff. And then people started calling us to donate. So today, we just had a random Conshy person come and donate food and pack lunches… Every single day we do it, a couple times a week.
Our government may be powerful. It may be rich. Nevertheless, this power, as Alexis de Tocqueville predicted in the 1830’s upon visiting America, has resulted in fruitless and ever-expanding welfare state, at the peril of the individual and the civic institutions that were initially meant to provide a safety net at America’s founding. In The Conscience of a Conservative (1960), Senator Barry Goldwater writes that “[de Tocqueville] predicted that America would produce, not tyrants, but ‘guardians.’”
de Tocqueville was half-correct when he said we would have “guardians” and “not tyrants.” Evidently, we have both, as government has used lockdown policy in both tyrannical and guardian fashion, subjugating us to welfare and incentivizing people to stay home, in an endless, self-justifying loop.
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Daily Wire founder and conservative media personality Ben Shapiro assumes an analogous view to that espoused by de Tocqueville and Goldwater, concerning the need for civic inculcation of virtue over reliance on the state. “Flourishing societies require a functional social fabric, created by citizens working together,” Shapiro writes in The Right Side of History (2019).
It is evidently the unique individuals in our tight-knit communities, like the Hussey Brothers and others in the Philadelphia area, who continue to step up in times of need, not asking for acclaim but providing this key social fabric when they see a gap. It’s not Governor Wolf or Dr. Rachel Levine, our state health secretary; it’s not Mayor Kenney in Philadelphia. It’s not our power-hungry leaders, impeded by their own bureaucratic-red tape that produces ineffectual top-down diktats — like the lockdown policy.
De Tocqueville was half-correct when he said we would have “guardians” and “not tyrants.” Evidently, we have both.
Since March, the brothers told me they have donated close to one thousand meals to families in need. In the beginning of the pandemic, it was them who made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, threw in some chips and an apple, a water bottle, and set them outside.
Now, it is a whole community effort.
“We have a strong following in the area and people will hit us up like ‘yo can we pack some bags,’ or ‘can we Venmo you some money so you can pack some?,’” J.P. said.
“We started with peanut butter [sandwiches],’” Chris Hussey noted, “and then we did meatball sandwiches. We even had my buddy who is a small business owner, Nick Pisano of Burly Dove Catering, to have a mini event with music out here. And he actually made Pot Roast pork sandwiches.”
The brothers’ approach is both flexible to the needs of the community and to their growing volunteer base. “Whoever wants to help — let’s go!”
While Capitol Hill has finally agreed to an approximately $1 trillion COVID-19 relief package that will provide $300 a week in jobless benefits, and a $600 check to qualifying individuals and families, the agreement was preceded by months and months of virtue-signaling and endless negotiations. But while the government tries to solve our economic issues from hundreds of miles away, often disappointing those it exists to represent, it is the local businesses like CNS and The Hussey Team Mortgage Advisors that pick up the slack. It is hard-working, civic-minded Americans.
J.P. asserted, “I’ve always said take care of your own community and don’t rely on anyone. We’re all human beings. Let’s just help out the other human beings in need.”
In early 2021, the brothers will be putting on a ‘Hussbus Hunt.’ It will be a scavenger hunt at local small businesses with prizes. “Golden ticket, Willy Wonka style,” according to the team. The objective is to get people in Conshohocken to patron small businesses.
The Husseys tell Broad + Liberty that they would welcome your involvement, by emailing, Team@TheHusseyTeam.com, and that they don’t plan on stopping their charity work even after society goes back to normal, whatever that looks like.
“We don’t have any idea for ending [our charity work]. Even though we’re in this pandemic, and that’s why we started out, people are always going to struggle. I don’t see a need to stop this if we continue to have people that want to donate.”
Gabe Kaminsky is a writer and student at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been published in the Daily Wire, The Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, The American Conservative, and elsewhere. firstname.lastname@example.org