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CipherSalutes: Food is Love for Healthcare Workers and Communities in Need 

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In the days leading up to Nurses Week (May 6 – 12), CipherHeath will be running a series of “CipherSalutes” spotlighting the unique ways our employees and their families are expressing their gratitude for nurses or doing their part to help others during the crisis. We hope they inspire you to reach out to the front-line healthcare workers in your community to let them know how much they are valued.

Here, we feature two stories from CipherHealth employees who care about food, as well as healthcare workers and their communities.

Alyssa Kleinman: Supporting the Front Lines by Supporting Local Businesses

Every day we have seen how communities are coming together to support one another throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In what felt like an instant, everyone’s lives had changed. Businesses were forced to shut down for the safety of our communities and healthcare workers were called to arms to help protect those we love.

As my family and I at home in Houston, Texas wanted to find a way to share our gratitude with the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers that were going above and beyond to care for patients and slow the spread of the virus.

One way was by enlisting and funding a local restaurant, Eighteen36, to provide dinner to healthcare workers across two shifts in the emergency room at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. Fueling these selfless workers with delicious local food — pizza, gyros and round stove burgers — has been our way of saying thank you to our local heroes, both the ones that keep us full of life, and the ones that keep us safe. 

Aisha Qamar: Supporting South Brooklyn Communities 

South Brooklyn Community Mutual Aid is a volunteer network that came together in response to the shelter-in-place order that was put into place in New York on March 20th. South Brooklyn is a large and diverse geographic area; many residents are immigrants, people of color, and working class.

Through a Google Form, residents needing assistance can request help with buying and delivering groceries, picking up prescriptions, one-to-one conversation and companionship (via Skype, Zoom, etc.), translation, social services guidance (filing for medicare, unemployment), preparing cooked food, dog walking, and in certain cases childcare/petcare. Those requesting assistance are matched with a volunteer in their neighborhood. I have been proud to serve as one of them.

As a volunteer coordinator, I’m helping to pair volunteers with neighbors who have requested assistance, as well as with fundraising efforts to help cover the costs of groceries for individuals and families who cannot afford them. I’m also helping recruit volunteers to assist.

Food insecurity is the major issue we are currently addressing in our neighborhood as many residents have been unable to work for well over a month. Neighbors who are immunocompromised, disabled, or older are unable to leave their homes to pick up essential items. Through this network of volunteers, we’re able to ensure that our neighbors have what they need. We operate primarily through donations, and work with community-based organizations and food pantries whenever possible.

preparing food for delivery during COVID-19

On Friday April 24th, I met with a few volunteers to put together over 100 grocery care packages to be distributed. A week later, we put together over 200 grocery packages. This week, we’re aiming for even more. To date, over 1,000 families have been supported. In these difficult times, this group reinforces my belief in the kindness of strangers — and in community-driven work.

See more ways CipherHealth is saluting and acknowledging our nurse heroes and helping their communities in honor of National Nurses Week. 


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