This week ended one of the most inspiring and uplifting episodes we’ve seen at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, as the last of more than 5,000 free meals were provided by the community to our staff to recognize the care they have provided these past two months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 400 individual donors contributed to the Meals for Heroes campaign, organized by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, at what we came to call “Gratitude Lane.” Dozens of other businesses and individuals sponsored entire evenings of free meals for more than 2,500 of our staff. Dozens more gave away cakes, drinks, vegetables, smoothies, candy, fruit, and flowers, and hundreds of schoolchildren and seniors wrote handwritten thank you cards to hand to our “heroes.”
To say we are overwhelmed wouldn’t do this justice. We are humbled by your support for us during this challenging time. We will never forget it. And we will do everything in our power to live up to your faith in us.
It’s hard to put into words what some of our staff are going through. We have team members across the organization, unflagging in their energy, worried about their patients while also worried whether this disease will follow them home. They’re holding hands with patients whose loved ones cannot be with them, telling them they are not alone. And they’re working long hours to keep up with a disease that presently has no cure.
Our pride starts with them. We’re proud of all our team every day, but this situation has brought out their best – once again. It’s also brought out the best in you, our community.
The desire to contribute to our team created the logistical need for a “Gratitude Lane” in the first place. So many of you wanted to help, but we couldn’t find a way to safely bring donations in and out of our caregiving space. So the alternative was to commandeer a parking lot next to the Jack Barto Center for Employee Fitness and create a loop where members of our team could drive through after work, picking up free meals and all the other donations without leaving their cars.
And read the homemade signs of encouragement. And honk at the cheerleaders who encouraged them. And take home a thank you note, usually handed to them by their supervisor at NHRMC.
The first guest on the first night, a nurse, cried. It’s one thing to offer a meal to hard working staff members so there’s one less night they have to cook. It’s something else to have a community collectively say “we appreciate what you are doing for us” in such a dramatic and outward way.
She wasn’t the last one to shed tears.
You helped make our team feel special, feel appreciated, feel loved. There is no value you can place on this. You are us and we are the community. This is our home, and never forget that we value this and each other above all.
We are honored to serve you, and now you have honored us in a way that will stay with us forever. We are in this together.
John Gizdic is president and CEO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Thank You For Contributing to Gratitude Lane
NHRMC’s Resiliency Team would like to thank the below organizations and individuals for their support of Gratitude Lane. This list does not include other generous donors who responded with donations of PPE or medical supplies, homemade cloth masks or contributed to the NHRMC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund.
• Lane Trogdon, Regional Vice President - Smoothie King
• Judith Villasenor, El Cazador Mexican Restaurant
• Meredith Sparrow, the Meridian Group
• Brenda Galloway, Community Outreach Coordiantor, Voyage
• Wayne Strauss and Oren Smith, NHRMC Food and Nutrition
• Michelle Rock, T’Geaux Boys Food Truck
• Scott Adams, US Foods
• Rob Kaiser, Greater Wilmington Business Journal
• Michael Jenkins, General Manager of Dunkin Donuts
• Courtney Greene, General Manager for AT&T
• Trey Sharpe, CEO of PCCS Comprehensive Medical Solutions
• Jay Corpening, Yellow Truck Coffee Company
• DR Horton Homes
• Cat Marinich, Owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes
• Pastor Beth Hood, Wesley United Methodist Church
• Mac’s Speed Shop
• Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
• Waffle House
• Jessica Foster, Edge of Urge
• Wallace West, Carolina StreetScapes Sign Company
• Andrew Bopes, Mon Ame Chocolates and Wine Bar
• LifeAid / FITAID Zero Sports Drink
• Audrey Wells, Founder of Angel Hour
• Pastor Daniel and Impact Church
• Rocco Quaranto, Tama Tea for Tama Tea
• Pizza Hut
• Mission BBQ
• Robin Grathwol
• Schorr Davis and the NHRMC Foundation
• Kelli Newton, Independence Mall
• Dr. Sejal Patel, Which-Wich Sandwich Shop
• Zack Allen, Globus Medical
• Cindy Mears
• Eric Tomasunis
• Clancy & Theys
• Claremont Properties
• Castle Hayne Farms
• Lowes Foods
• Brian Rose, UTZ foods
• Daniel Rambadt
• Evans Lackey
• Sarah Cottrell, Playa Bowls
• Ashley High School and Hoggard High School