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Coming Together During COVID-19

Coronavirus Brings St. Louis’ Compassionate Side

As the legendary Ella Fitzgerald once sang, “Into each life, some rain must fall.” And even though we can’t control how much it rains, we can make a decision – let ourselves get soaked, or break out the umbrella.

The rain, of course, is COVID-19...the pandemic that’s threatening millions of lives and shaking the world’s confidence.

Countries are on lockdown, schools closed, events canceled, factories shut down, and millions told to work from home. But there is a silver lining. Besides the dramatic changes and economic sacrifices to save lives, this crisis has also led to deep human friendships, and incredible acts of heroism, and sacrifice for one another.

Kim McBride is an RNat Innovare Health and just one of the millions on the frontlines. And, as if that stress is not enough, on days off she delivers medications to those who can’t get out. McBride said, “It’s a God-given calling in my nature to help people whenever I can.”

Fourth-grade teacher P. J. Elam Halter has her Mason ACL Elementary students writing thank you letters to all first responders.  “I want it to be a fun way to teach the kids to appreciate the sacrifices so many are making,” said Halter.

 West County resident Laurie Contrera is just one of the many caring individuals placing teddy bears in windows so young kids can hunt them on walks and bike rides.

Sheri Aven started out bringing meals to her daughter Stephanie at St. Luke’s Hospital. That single gesture has now turned into goodie-filled baskets for all the nurses. Aven said, “I’m just one person delivering to one floor of nurses, but my hope is to start a ripple effect encouraging others to do the same.”

Shawn Rimerman of ComForCare Home Care delivers free care packages to seniors and others. “We ask recipients to pledge a donation to STLGives.org to pay it forward,” Rimerman said.

Disappointed due to her canceled birthday slumber party, Sarah Chudd’s nine- year old daughter instead enjoyed a 29 car parade with balloons and signs, thanks to amazing friends and neighbors. Chudd said, “Molly said it was her best birthday ever.”

 Sarah Southards is a Doula supporting women trying to conceive. No longer able to go into hospitals, she now sews masks. “My hope is to help keep them safe while reminding them they’re appreciated and cared for,” Southards said. She’s already donated 200, with new requests daily.

RN Natalie Biagi, formerly from St. Louis, now works COVID-19 crisis assignments out west but has not forgotten her hometown. She teamed up with her cousin Bailey Shafer, Crispy Edge’s Jesse Stuart, and businessman Jack Sheehan to start a GoFundMe campaign supporting shuttered restaurants and feeding healthcare workers here. Biagi said, “We wanted to find a way to boost morale and lighten spirits during these difficult times.” In four weeks they’ve raised $10,500.00.

The St. Louis Community Foundation launched a new COVID-19 Regional Response Fund directing philanthropic resources to local people and institutions most affected. Firefighter Charlie Metzner’s charity, St Louis Hero Network, is feeding police, firefighters, and healthcare workers. “Company donations have enabled us to support those same restaurants that helped support our fallen hero’s last fall,” said Metzner.        

There’s no doubt when the dust settles, our lives will be changed in some ways forever. Yet, this crisis has given us a sense of purpose and the instinct to demonstrate love, kindness, and solidarity. That, we should be proud of. We can take comfort in knowing our “new normal” will perhaps be a kinder, gentler and more thoughtful world.

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