A group of Park Slope do-gooders have raised thousands to feed the hard-working staff of Methodist Hospital, and support struggling local businesses while they’re at it.
As of April 9, an online fundraiser for the hospital has netted over $100,000, with the proceeds providing hundreds of dinners for healthcare workers from local restaurants seven nights a week.
“We’ve heard from so many people in the community about how this has provided them such a wonderful outlet to feel that they can give back and show their support,” said Jessica Fields, who organized the fundraiser along with Soni Saluja and Emily Drucker.
Fields initially wanted to work with a separate fundraising campaign for personal protective equipment at the hospital, but that campaign ended before she could get involved. After discussing with the coordinators of the equipment fundraiser what else the hospital was in need of, Fields landed on food, as the medical center’s cafeteria shuttered at the start of the outbreak.
“It wasn’t just that they didn’t have good food, they had no food,” Fields said.
Fields and her neighbors set out with modest ambitions, and a goal of only a thousand dollars to provide the workers with one dinner — a trial run, she said. After sharing the fundraiser with around 40 neighbors, the effort ballooned almost immediately, with $2,000 pouring in in just the first day.
“Somebody had shared it and now we were getting donations from strangers,” Fields said. “At that point there was just no stopping it.”
And their momentum has not slowed since they started two weeks ago.
“Each day was like this new milestone that we could not imagine having gotten to,” Fields said.
The fundraiser also gives locals a chance to support local restaurants, who have struggled since a ban on dining-in went into effect in March. Each meal is catered by a different local restaurant each night, with only independent local restaurants being used. Restaurants so far have included Giovanni’s Brooklyn Eats, Benchmark Restaurant, Negril, and Da Nonna Rossa.
“It’s such a win on so many levels, the restaurants are getting business, the hospitals are getting food,” said Fields.
Donors themselves have also showered praise on the staff at Methodist, with some donations made by those who were recently treated at the Seventh Avenue medical center.
“Thanks for taking care of my beloved fiance, who was in the ER there just a few weeks ago, and for all the work you are doing now in such difficult circumstances” read one message. “Much love and appreciation.”
An added benefit for donors, Fields said, has been the morale that comes with helping out in however small a way during some of the borough’s darkest days.
“The win that we had not anticipated was the win for morale and keeping the community spirit up,” she said.