In the midst of planning our 2020 Lighthouse Cares calendar of events, the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread across the globe and changed the way the team was able to engage with volunteer events and efforts. The Lighthouse Cares Committee, a team of 16 Lighthouse employees, organized other ways to give back during this time by making monetary donations to the World Health Organization, Dinner4Docs, the Ronald McDonald House Charities, and other related organizations across the globe. In addition, something that really inspired the group was the volume of individual efforts happening across the Lighthouse team in various locations. Below are the stories of four individuals who have found unique ways to give back during this difficult time in history.
Feeding & Supporting Local Nurses
Michelle Lippert, Client Solutions Manager at Lighthouse, her daughter, and some of Michelle’s close friends have been supporting local nurses and their colleagues by providing meals, making thank you posters, and showing their unconditional support.
With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the New Jersey/New York area, local hospitals and workers were very quickly overwhelmed. Michelle knows several nurses who, in the midst of working extra hours and taking on night shifts, were forgetting to eat or not eating at all as the hospital cafeterias closed and it was hard to find time for a meal. Michelle’s childhood best friend and mother of two young girls, Donielle, is a nurse manager at Monmouth Medical Center at the Jersey Shore. She had taken on more night shifts with the growing need for all hands on deck, so her time was getting stretched thin. Donielle and her fiancé, who works in food distribution and was also very busy, had been juggling quite a bit between work and ensuring their girls were fed and had the attention they needed around their homeschooling. All in all, they were overwhelmed and their loved ones felt helpless in the situation.
Donielle’s older sister decided to start a meal train for Monmouth Medical Center and asked for donations to begin this endeavor. Michelle immediately jumped in and worked with Donielle’s sister to help make and deliver meals to the nurses and other hospital workers every week. Additionally, Donielle’s mom started a meal train for Donielle’s family so that they were covered when it came to mealtime and has been delivering meals to them at home throughout the last few weeks.
Pretty soon the idea grew bigger and Michelle started another food train with her daughter’s dance team moms and friends. Their dance mom group has a few parents that are nurses, so they are now delivering to the nurses in their group that are working in New York and at other New Jersey hospitals that are overrun with COVID-19 cases. In addition to supplying breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, Michelle’s daughter also started making hand-made thank you signs for all deliveries (see image below).
Michelle and the women she is running the food trains with take turns purchasing meals from various local restaurants in the area to support small business during this time. The group continues to deliver food to nurses and hospital workers in the New Jersey and New York areas multiple times per week.
To get involved, reach out to your connections who work in hospitals or look for organizations like Jersey4Jersey at 844-NJ-RELIEF or Dinners4Docs, who provide much-needed support to medical professionals in New Jersey and New York City including delivering meals from local restaurants.
Sewing Face Masks
Trey Flint, Review Solutions Consultant at Lighthouse, teamed up with his mom, Ellen, to sew masks for hospital workers. Ellen was a labor and delivery nurse for more than 40 years and several of her friends, mentees, and the folks she trained were working at Detroit hospitals, which were running dangerously low on face masks. Detroit was devastated by COVID-19, so Ellen, a woman who does not shy away from hard work, jumped in immediately and started wrangling folks to help support relief efforts by sewing face masks. She worked closely with her knitting group at her church, who regularly knit quilts to donate to the homeless, to switch gears and start sewing masks. Over the last several weeks, Ellen has donated well over 100 masks to various Detroit hospitals via her church.
Trey joined in the effort after his mother sent him some simple PDF instructions for making masks and sewed a set for his wife’s entire team at Good Samaritan hospital in Washington. His wife is a nurse in the ICU, which has become a designated COVID-19 unit. The masks are not necessarily up to hospital code, but they do have fun patterns that the nurses can wear over their standard issued mask as well as to the grocery store and other places when getting necessities.
Want to join in? Download the PDF and get started making face masks today.
Jenny Hoefel, Event Marketing Manager at Lighthouse, and her husband, Jason, have been donating blood since 2001. They typically donate every eight weeks, the designated waiting period between donations, if they can. When the COVID-19 lockdown was announced in Washington state, Jenny and Jason received a call from their local blood bank, Bloodworks Northwest, letting them know they were critically low in their blood reserves. The couple signed up to donate that week and plan to donate in May once they are eligible again. Additionally, Jenny made a PSA to her team in the Seattle region and shared details on how to donate if folks were able.
During this challenging period, the process for giving blood has changed a bit. Rather than your typical blood bank bus, Bloodworks has been using local churches and community centers to space out donors to ensure safe social distancing. Additionally, donations are only by appointment. For more information on how to give blood, find your local blood bank and schedule time. If you are in the Seattle area, you can give blood at T-Mobile Park (see image below).
In addition to donating blood, Jenny has always had an interest in supporting local dog shelters and rescue programs. She began volunteering with Saving Great Animals, a matchmaking rescue program, in early January 2020 before COVID-19 hit the Seattle area. For the first couple of months, Jenny helped by volunteering with transports when dogs would come into the area on trucks from high-kill shelters and were picked up by foster volunteers who would take care of the dogs until they were officially adopted. Typically, Jenny was not able to foster dogs due to her schedule, but with COVID-19 and the mandate to work from home, she had the opportunity to foster. After about a week working from home, Jenny took on a new foster, Kona. Kona lived in a shelter in Olympia, Washington, for four months, where she recently delivered puppies. All of her puppies were adopted, but Kona was left in the shelter. Jenny and her husband took her into their home for two weeks, during which time she played with their dog, Arlo, (see image on right – Kona is the tan/white-colored dog), was spayed, and was quickly adopted by another loving family, which became her forever home.
Due to COVID-19, many folks are able to foster for the first time, and rescue organizations are seeing record numbers of applications. Currently, there are more foster families than dogs to foster, which is exciting for the pups. If you have an interest in supporting with transports or fostering, reach out to your local pet rescue.
Helping to Fight Hunger
When COVID-19 hit, Josh Stellick, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Lighthouse reached out to the local Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. Josh was able to connect with the deputy director of the group, Mason Love, who provided details on what the organization needed during the pandemic. The organization was completely understaffed, overwhelmed, and in desperate need of supplies. Josh jotted down all the items the group needed and did a big food run, where he filled two pallets of food (some of the items pictured below). Josh and his wife, Allison, loaded it all up on hand carts and met Mason, who then took the rest of the items back to the food bank to make grab-and-go meals for the seniors.
In addition to food items, the organization needed sanitary wipes and other means to effectively clean. Due to the high demand for those items, Josh had to search online, where he eventually had success and continues to see items shipped to the center that were originally on backorder.
Additionally, Josh’s wife Allison works with the Backpack Brigade, an organization focused on ensuring kids do not go hungry on the weekends by providing meals for children at low-income schools. With schools being closed due to COVID-19, children relying on two school meals each day are now without and they are not onsite to pick up their weekend meals from the Backpack Brigade. With COVID-19, Allison has been volunteering in-person to pack up a week’s worth of meals into individual packages and delivering to homes or meeting outside the schools to hand them out to families in need.
Finally, Josh and his wife have also been donating to NW Harvest, a local northwest organization that focuses on statewide hunger relief. The organization recently announced a three million dollar deficiency and needs monetary support. So, whether through monetary, time, or item donations, we encourage you to reach out to your local food banks and hunger-relief organizations to see what assistance they may need.
Lighthouse is proud of the way our people show they care. No matter your interests, there are ways to give back. For more information or additional ideas for how you can get involved, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.