I'll do the work -- all you have to do is donate, and you'll trigger an ecosystem of kindness and paying it forward.
By donating, here are the immediate 3 acts of kindness that will result from your contribution:
#1 Donate in honor of someone who has helped you during the pandemic.
#2 100% of the Money you donate will go to provide meals to front line essential workers.
#3 Meals will be purchased from local community restaurants who are in dire need of business and support, and meals purchased will be in larger quantities (15-50 meals at a time for essential workers) to make a more meaningful impact to businesses.
**#4 bonus act of kindness -- some participating restaurants are willing to match or donate more meals to show even more love and appreciation for front line workers **
Ok, but who am I, and why am I doing this?
In 2019, I had been diagnosed with a rare disease that I had never heard of: multicentric Castleman’s disease. I was told, “at least it’s not cancer!” only to learn that it was deadlier than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. My disease was so rare, my local oncologists only had two patients in their collective experience, and they had struck 0 for 2 — Both known patients died.
Needless to say, this wasn’t ideal.
I’ll spare you the details of my devastation, insurance battles, treatment and other related nightmares, but this basically meant that long before this pandemic, I was already donning an N95 mask while I picked up my kids from pre-school in Lafayette. My treatments had the benefit of keeping my hair and appearance in tact, but leaving me medically immunocompromised to the point where the flu or even a kid-bug would incapacitate me. The rarity of my disease also meant that remission would be eternally elusive—and current treatment guidelines suggested “indefinite therapy.”
So when Corona virus came around, I was already monitoring news from China to guesstimate how and when it would hit our shores. I stalked news in Washington about the outbreak and mentally prepared myself for the zombie scenarios of toilet paper outages and flour shortages. I felt decently confident that I could do things “on my own” with little help from others—my husband was a Marine, and I owned chickens, after all.
But I failed to account for all scenarios. Early in the pandemic, when I (naively) thought we were in the peak, I delayed my treatments—hoping to lock us down and protect us—when my baby had a high fever and required medication. Couldn’t the pharmacy ship it? Not this med, it was liquid and the pharmacy would make no exceptions. Send my husband to the pharmacy? Was it worth the risk? I told myself no, but I was rather desperate. A neighbor volunteered to help me, until she learned my pharmacy was in a hospital and she changed her mind. I couldn’t blame her.
In a whim, I turned to the internet, to a local facebook group. A pool of strangers, an unknown compilation of humanity in an Internet forum.
But it was here where I was met with instant compassion. Several people responded, offering to help. One doctor personally messaged me, telling me she would do it and deliver it to my house. I felt instant relief and a sense of deep gratitude. How could I re-pay these strangers? Money? I’d pay her for her time. “No.” She said. Could I return the favor some how? Unlikely, as I was having difficulty even going grocery shopping for myself.
And so, I sat on it. As I did, I continued to receive continued kindness and generosity from this community that I would never forget. One woman laboriously walked the target aisles on FaceTime during Easter to help me get baskets and candy for my kids. Another mom and her son ran to TJs countless (SO MANY) times to get me their coveted hummus and other yearned for groceries that I couldn’t get elsewhere. Others gave me free masks for my family (my little daughter who couldn't fit ordinary kid masks, and my husband who had liked the style of another). I offered to pay, to do some thing in return for their kindness. But, no. Repeatedly, from their hearts, their goodness, I have been sitting with my gratitude, and no meaningful way to thank them.
Until now. In thanks and deep gratitude to these people who personally helped me, I wanted to buy meals for my local hospital ICU. I surveyed a few Local restaurants and found willing participants and called the ICU ANM nurse to find out details of what they would like.
But this got me thinking. The local ICU relayed to me that they are busy and feel forgotten. The days of tributes and “thank your essential workers” has been drowned out by pandemic fatigue. PLUS, we have all these struggling restaurants and businesses who need help.
Current data shows that we won’t PEAK until late February or March.
So "3 Acts of Kindness" was borne. What I'm doing: I’m in the process of compiling a list of local restaurants who can do **individually wrapped** (that’s a common condition of hospitals) meals and their approximate pricing. I've called local hospitals and nursing staff to figure out details of timing, how many meals to donate and other similar logistics. I am also compiling a list of local worthy recipients (staff, volunteers, fire, doctors, paramedics, etc.) to donate to.
And here’s may ask:
In honor of all those strangers who helped me, and To Pay It Forward and show appreciation for the frontline workers who have relentlessly worked non-stop behind the scenes to save lives and our community, and to also help our dear businesses and restaurants, I’ve started a fund to buy meals/gifts/tokens of appreciation for them. My current focus is on Northern California in the East Bay, although there is no real reason that this can't go further or duplicated elsewhere. I will do the organizing and work to spread kindness and pay it forward. To help, you can:
1. Donate. My current data estimates are that buying meals for one shift of one hospital department ranges from $115-$500. There are ICUs, ER, URGENT CARE, OBGYN docs and nurses and staff interfacing with COVID positive moms. I haven’t even counted fire, PD, or ambulance paramedics. If you donate, 100% of your contribution will go to buying a meal to front line workers.
2. Is there a restaurant or business that needs our support? Name them here and I’ll get it touch with them about an order to support them.
3. Is there a worthy group of frontline workers you think we should donate to? Pm me who they are and how to get in touch with them so I can coordinate details.
4. Is there an unsung hero who’s helped you during this pandemic that you want to thank? Donate in honor of them and PM me and I’ll do my best to share their story and a contribution in their honor.
5. If you’re a restaurant willing to match donations or also contribute, let me know.
I’ve been looking for a way to make a more meaningful impact during this pandemic and I hope you’ll join me. 100% of your contribution will help an ecosystem of good that goes beyond just saying "thank you." I’ll do the work as long as I have the resources. As much as we are here to spread news or warnings to one another, I think it behooves us to also spread the good news, how wonderful this community is, and give back to those who never ask to be thanked.
If you'd like to avoid fees, you can also venmo me at @Mimifulloflove and note #3actsofkindness or #payitforward.
- Enid Hudak
- Elizabeth Kalpakjian
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