(Somerville) Pioneer Family Success Center (FSC) and parent organization EmPoWER Somerset invite local residents to help give back to the health care community by donating care packages for medical professionals staying in hotels to protect their families from exposure to COVID19. Visit PioneerFSC.com and click Pioneer FSC Cares for details on the Pioneer FSC Cares project including suggested items, donation signup, and donor acknowledgements that are updated regularly.
Currently, assembled care packages and items are being accepted. Over the next few weeks, personal care items are being collected for Mother’s Day gift packages that will be donated directly to the hospital for distribution to Moms on staff.
Pioneer FSC stepped in to help after the effort was started independently by Jessica Dale of Somerville who works as the organization’s Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator. Dale’s nephew John Dale also of Somerville is a nurse at RWJ New Brunswick and checked into a hotel to protect his wife and three young daughters ages two and a half, five and eight. Dale reached out to her niece Stephanie Dale to find out how she could help, and through that conversation the care package idea was born.
Dale learned from her niece that like her nephew John there were many other healthcare professionals checking into hotels. “At that moment I realized that they all can use a care basket,” said Dale. “I decided then I wanted to take on this project to make their stay away from home a little nicer. I thought it would be nice to have some goodies for when they arrive at their rooms after putting in long hours of work in the hospital.”
Dale coordinated with RWJUH Barnabas Somerset to connect with local hotels housing medical professionals, created the donation page and shared the idea on social media and through friends, colleagues and co-workers. The enthusiasm for the effort grew quickly and within a few days 43 care packages donated by community members that wanted to help. Dozens of personal thank you cards were also contributed, some handmade by local Girl Scout troops.
Empower Somerset Health and Wellness Associate Katie Hoben felt a personal connection to the effort. “My father is a paramedic on the front-line treating patients with COVID-19, and his colleagues are working twenty-four seven to keep New Jersey residents safe,” said Hoben. “I wanted to provide some comfort, support, and treats to thank them for their service and bravery during this difficult time.” Hoben helped with gathering items and assembling 28 more care packages.
Within the first week 71 care packages had been delivered to medical professionals staying at Somerset County hotels including Bridgewater Marriott, Residence Inn Somerset, Homewood Suites Branchburg and Hilton Garden Inn Bridgewater. Each care package included a personal thank you note and contact information for Pioneer FSC and EmPoWER Somerset.
The response has been very positive. “Thank you for the awesome bag of goodies! Very much appreciated!” said a note from Jaci Schloesser, one of the healthcare professionals to receive a care package.
“I just wanted to thank you and everyone that made it possible to have the beautiful welcome bags for the Healthcare providers and medical staff,” said a note from Grace Lizardo, a Manager at Bridgewater Marriott. “After long hours of commute and hard work, receiving these bags has been very encouraging and uplifting. They look so happy every time they get one of these beautiful bags. Trust me, it goes a long way for them!”
The project started by Dale is a fitting extension of her role at the FSC and provided a meaningful opportunity for the FSC to fulfill its mission, which is to provide an environment to strengthen and empower individuals and families, and to build connections among families and the community. The Pioneer FSC, a community gathering place that connects families to helpful resources and brings families together through free events and programs, has had to adapt to deliver services in new and different ways.
Pioneer FSC Director Pastor Tim Wolf said, “The Pioneer FSC Cares project is a creative initiative that serves those selfless individuals who are protecting their families and caring for the most vulnerable patients in our hospitals. Supporting and caring for families is at the heart of the Pioneer Family Success Center.”
From the outset of the quarantine, a special section of PioneerFSC.com has been regularly updated with information on local community resources as well as opportunities to give back. Pioneer FSC staff are available to help direct residents to local resources. Call 908-722-4400 for assistance in English or Spanish, or click We Want To Hear From You at PioneerFSC.com.