The first known cases of coronavirus were reported in San Francisco on March 5 and the region’s first shelter-in-place order was announced on March 16. In just those few weeks, our creative and compassionate community has put the very best of its ingenuity — the same inventiveness that has given rise to Silicon Valley legends like HP, Apple, Adobe, Google, Facebook, Tesla, and eBay — to work, and in swift action.
With initiatives that address the needs of the frontline healthcare providers and restaurant workers most impacted by the pandemic, the Bay Area community has not only been timely with taking steps to give back and help our neighbors, these efforts have made a difference.
After speaking with the people behind some of these efforts, I am sharing their unique stories with the hope these examples will serve as a model for other communities to do the same.
1: Give Armor
Created by: Lillian Chan, who comes from a construction family business.
The initiative: Give Armor is a matchmaking website between the construction industry that has N95 masks to donate and medical staff in need of N95 masks. The goods are often shipped directly. They also help their partnerships with operations, fundraising efforts, and logistics.
In late March, Chan read a tweet from Vice President Mike Pence and Andy Slavitt, a former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), that the N95 masks used by her construction company were the same masks most needed in hospitals to fight Covid-19.
“Those leaders inspired my friends and me to take action, because we had an opportunity to help,” she says. Chan and her fellow volunteers have partnered with OpenCollective 501c3 to field monetary donations as well as fellow PPE efforts, #GetUsPPE, National PPE Coalition, SupplyOurHeroes, and free COVID-19 testing group, Bolinas COVID-19 Testing.
Created by: Maggie Spicer, a brand strategist with a passion for food businesses.
The initiative: The goal of Delicious at Home is to help independent restaurants affected by shelter-in-place orders. This pilot program has launched an online ordering system and network of local “pickup” locations to make it easy for individuals to support some of the best local restaurants during the pandemic. It was founded to assist eateries maintain their staff and cover operating expenses so they can reopen once the need for physical distancing comes to an end. Keeping restaurants busy helps sustain the independent farmers, ranchers, and food producers that supply them. Menus are updated weekly and shared via Instagram.
3: Meal to Heal
Co-Created by: Shari Eisenberg, who runs her own events company in San Francisco, and Dre Madden
The initiative: Meal to Heal is a matchmaking platform that connects donors with local restaurants in need of business and delivers meals to frontline healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“We find small restaurants and catering companies and help connect them to healthcare, police, and fire facilities in need,” explains Meal to Heal co-creator Shari Eisenberg. Since takeout orders alone are not enough to sustain most restaurants for very long, and since many of their employees are the sole providers for their families, Eisenberg teamed up with friend, Dre Madden, to expand on the success of the same initiative in Los Angeles.
Follow on Instagram for updates, photos, and info on how to help.
Keep the Momentum Going
It’s easy to become consumed by the news and feel a range of overwhelming emotions, from confusion to anger and fear, but one way to remedy that is by taking concrete action. Give Armor, Delicious at Home, Meal to Heal, and countless other local groups are examples of communities banding together in this time of need.
Figs O’Sullivan, therapist and founder of relationship guidance platform Empathi, says that’s “one of the most effective ways people can turn intense negative emotion into healthy outcomes” is by joining forces to work on shared projects in the service of others. “Furthermore, this can reduce feelings of isolation, which are natural human emotions, but are particularly prevalent in times of shelter in place,” he adds.
Now is the time for more efforts like these across the country and globe.I’m so grateful for the amazing work being done, and I can’t wait to see what other new ideas come into being as we take on the fight to stop the spread — and the negative impacts — of the coronavirus.
Other Bay Area Organizations to Support
When reaching out to find local people doing great work to support those affected by COVID-19, I came across countless other invaluable resources, including:
- Mask Match: Donate masks if you have them, volunteer to deliver masks, or donate funds toward the cause.
- Bay Area Safety Net Fund: To support artists whose events have been canceled as a result of shelter-in-place orders.
- Restaurant Workers’ Relief Fund: To support restaurants and restaurant workers affected by the crisis.
- San Francisco Food Bank: To ensure our neighbors don’t go hungry.
Got any other great ones to add to this list? Let me know.