Back on March 21st, NYC-based stand-up comedian, Katie Finn, was adjusting to the new normal of working her day job from home. Finn was well aware that many out there did not have the same luxury — like her sister Kelly, an ICU nurse at a hospital in the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
Finn wanted to find a way to help her sister and the other nurses working tirelessly on the frontlines, as the virus’ peak loomed on the horizon. Finn says that after accepting the fact that she could not build a ventilator or uncover a hoarded stockpile of N95 masks, she thought of a simple way she could help: buying lunch.
That day Katie bought lunch for her sister and the other nurses in her ICU unit. The staff thanked her and said having the food waiting for them during their long, draining shifts treating COVID-19 patients was a blessing.
That’s when Finn decided to start Feeding Our Frontlines. She put out a call to friends, family and followers from the NYC comedy community to donate whatever they could so that she could continue to deliver food to frontline workers during the pandemic. She had no idea at the time how much of an impact her call to action would make.
Now, six weeks later, her organization has raised over $34,000 and counting, while Finn continues to feed thousands of healthcare workers in hospitals throughout New York City and Connecticut.
Week 1: Getting help from local businesses
Just days after her announcement, donations helped Finn provide meals for multiple shifts of nurses at two NYC hospitals. Finn is further supporting her community by purchasing meals from local restaurants only, and tells donors that no meals provided for hospital workers throughout this movement would be purchased from a chain restaurant.
Many local NYC restaurants that were forced to close their doors following stay-at-home orders are struggling to stay in business. Restaurants that Finn has grown to know and love while living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan have joined her cause, and are taking on the challenge of cooking hundreds of meals at a time — with some even volunteering delivery help to get meals to hospitals across the city.
Week 2: More meals for more frontline workers
By her second week of delivering meals to frontline workers, Finn announced on March 30th that she was able to collect enough donations to feed 15 shifts of healthcare professionals in the ICU and emergency rooms at two NYC hospitals. Rather than just nurses, donations were now allowing her to feed doctors, paramedics, respiratory therapists, technicians, and custodial staff.
Week 3: From meals to fanny packs
After getting well acquainted with the struggles of frontline workers, Finn learned that the staff needed a way to hold PPE on their person during their shifts. Protective equipment could not be set down on tables or countertops and needed to be kept secure and easily accessible. Nurses said fanny packs would be the best way to do that.
Finn announced that she partnered with several major fashion labels who wanted to help her cause. Sarah Leff, CEO of the fashion brand Jonathan Cohen, helped Finn source donations for enough fanny packs to supply the entire emergency room staff at New York Presbyterian hospital.
Week 4: Feeding thousands on the frontline
Four weeks after Finn put out a call for donations, she announced that they have fed over 3,000 frontline workers in total, spanning three hospitals. They have also used donations to buy coffee, which Finn says is extremely appreciated during long, grueling hospital shifts.
Week 5: Good news from the frontline
On week five, Finn announced that 500 healthcare workers had been fed in one week, and that her sister Kelly was slowly but surely seeing a change for the better in critical coronavirus case loads during her shift.
In footage filmed by Finn during food drop-offs, nurses shout their gratitude for those who have stepped up to support them during this trying time. Finn’s sister Kelly shares, “I think most of us wouldn’t have even eaten if it hadn’t been for Katie and so many wonderful people buying us food.”
Finn says, “These workers are so appreciative of the food, they say to me ‘Katie, thank you, please tell everyone thank you.’ And I say ‘no, thank you.’”
Donations are still being collected for Feeding Our Frontline, and Finn says that she and her thoughtful volunteers will continue to deliver food to hospitals while the pandemic continues.
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