‘There were so many things we couldn’t do. It was important to focus on what we can do.’
“Before COVID, I was running an entertainment event planning company and photography business while also working for an airline. It all stopped in March 2020. I had to go on leave because I have a serious autoimmune disease. I was thinking about my friends who are nurses and friends who had to close businesses. I asked myself how we can mutually support the frontline workers while supporting the businesses. Then it just came to me!
“I went to a friend who owns a café and said that if we could get people to pitch in, we could get takeout platters and send them to hospitals. Then we asked a pizza place to do it, and it spiraled into helping many businesses. I was feeling badly for the stores that were for gift giving and for the kids who were suddenly not allowed to celebrate birthdays. We’d even do lawn birthday parties where we’d get balloons and gifts, and I would set it up for frontline worker kids, all for free. Other people who had kids celebrating would buy the [gifts], and the money would go towards the frontline people. A gift store owner said to me, ‘I wasn’t going to be able to pay my electricity until you came.’
“I went to other stores, and we made 100 Easter baskets for frontline workers and brought them to hospitals. We had floral companies help for Mother’s Day. We just kept thinking, ‘How can we symbiotically help one help the other?’
I hope what I do inspires others to go out and do similar things.
“Years ago, my kids were in the hospital around the holidays, so we’d do something called ‘Cancer Won’t Stop Santa.’ Every year we took on a family who was going through a pediatric cancer diagnosis, and we’d cover their Christmas completely. Now we did ‘Pandemic Won’t Stop Santa’ and helped 33 families have gifts for their kids.
“I’ve learned that I’m good in a crisis, and doing these things is also a way for me to deal with it. Keeping so busy was helping me not freak out about how scared I was. It’s important to always look for the one positive thing you can do in a situation that you have no control over. There were so many things we couldn’t do. It was important to focus on what we can do. I hope what I do inspires others to go out and do similar things.”
Interviewed by Iris Wiener