Executives at Hope for the Day, a nonprofit organization that works closely with restaurant workers through its Logan Square coffeeshop to promote mental health awareness, ousted its founder following d ” a series of allegations centered on the treatment of employees of the organization.
At the end of April, Jonny Boucher left the organization he had founded; Hope for the Day announced on move via Instagram and via an online statement. Concerns about Boucher included “challenges with unprofessional communication,” which extended to “gender biases, disrespect of identity, symbolization and ethnic identity,” according to the statement. Just before his departure, The hope of the day suspended Boucher and wrote via Instagram that the organization “has been made aware of numerous complaints against senior management ranging from creating a hostile work environment to sexual impropriety.”
Boucher tells Eater that he is currently unable to discuss his exit. Block Club Chicago First reported news of Boucher’s ouster today.
In addition to this statement, a spokesperson for Sip of Hope told Eater Chicago, âBoth Hope for the Day and Sip of Hope will continue to serve our missions. We support all measures taken and wish Jonny the best in his future endeavors.
Hope for the Day’s board of directors had been under pressure for months to take action – a group of current and past employees presented a petition calling for Boucher’s dismissal from the company in February, according to Hope for the Day. An Instagram account dedicated to spreading unverified stories of abuse involving Boucher and Hope for the Day sprouted around the same time and took up the situation with Boucher.
“It’s not just about [sic] Johnny, there is a role model among the staff of Hope for the Day Leadership of abusing power and silencing the voices of those who have tried to speak out against them. As evidenced by the recent termination of some of them. But we will not allow those who have been fired to be rebellious goats. We will only be satisfied when those at fault are held accountable for their actions, âreads an anonymous message on the account. April 18.
The account, @thetruthabouthope, has messages in the same style as the @ the86dlist, another anonymous account created in 2020 full of allegations about Chicago’s restaurant business that rocked the industry. The86dlist posts led to the closure of Fat Rice in Logan Square and Michelin-starred Acadia in South Loop.
The user behind @thetruthabouthope did not return requests for comment.
Boucher founded the organization in 2011 to increase the availability of mental health resources. In an interview last year, Boucher told Eater Chicago that 16 of his friends had committed suicide.
Hope for the day, who popularized a motto, “There’s nothing wrong with not going,” also operates a Logan Square coffeeshop. Sip of Hope opened in 2018 and offers a community space to host workshops on mental health. The resource was even more valuable during a pandemic that rocked the hospitality industry. President Barack Obama himself tweeted about Boucher and the coffeeshop in 2018. Hollywood executives were interested last December in using Sip of Hope as inspiration for a TV show. A spokesperson for Warner Brothers did not return a message commenting on the pilot’s status.
Hope for the Day says it hired a third-party investigator to review the claims before separating from Boucher. The organization is subject to a diversity, equity and inclusion audit and has stepped up training on sexual harassment and diversity for leadership, according to the organization’s statement.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm or if you are anxious, depressed, upset, or need to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800- 273-8255 or text the crisis text line at 741-741. For international resources, here is a good starting point.