Kindness from across the country is reaching AHRC New York City at the most critical time. Groups from Rhode Island and Florida such as Operation Christmas Child have worked to deliver homemade “travel masks” for Direct Support Professionals to use as they commute to work. In addition, members of the AHRC NYC family who are based in other states have used their connections to create PPE for AHRC NYC staff.
“The people at AHRC are like family to me now,” said Chris Duprey, a consultant living in Wisconsin who has been working with AHRC NYC since 2010 on the EVOLV project and has been helping to implement Cx360, the agency’s electronic health record (EHR), since 2016. “I live in Wisconsin, and while we have the virus here it is certainly not like what is being experienced in New York. I felt like there had to be something tangible I could do to help.”
Chris reached out to Edie Weber, Director of Clinical and Program Informatics, to see what could be done. “The most critical need for us was PPE,” Edie said. “I asked Chris if she had any access to masks. They are just so hard to come across now in New York.”
Chris knew what to do. “My cousin, Cheryl Daul, was making masks for a local hospital. She is part of a group called the Kewaunee Artisans Club,” Chris said. “I talked to Cheryl and by the next day, which was Easter Sunday, we had 65 masks to send to AHRC.”
“The masks arrived by Tuesday [April 14],” Edie said. “I took them to Dickson-Goodman and Bloomberg Apartments. I had reached out to Residential Services and they said to bring them there because they had the highest need.”
These acts of kindness and the dedication of AHRC NYC direct support staff has been inspirational to many, including Edie. “Going back to programs just really was moving for me—it warmed my heart,” she said. “The staff at the residences is still so gracious and welcoming with all that is going on. It reminds you why we do what we do.”
Kewaunee—population 2,952—is a small town with a sizable giving spirit. “The artisan club was started about six or seven years ago—quilting classes were being offered through a technical school in Green Bay and 20 of us ladies decided that we just didn’t want those classes to end,” Cheryl said. A nonprofit was formed and the Kewaunee Artisans Club has been creating beautiful work ever since. It switched from quilts to masks when the coronavirus began affecting nearby Wisconsin hospitals.
“My pastor knew a nurse who needed someone who sews,” Cheryl explained. “I was contacted on a Sunday, by that Friday I had connected with our ladies and we threw together 560 masks to get the project started.” When Chris approached Cheryl with AHRC NYC’s PPE needs, the artisan club was more than prepared to help.
Cheryl comes from a family of helpers—her husband and her sons have combined to serve more than 60 years in the local fire department. Now she is finding how rewarding serving those in need can be. “This was my way of helping my community. My son said ‘Mom, you never thought you could never be an EMT but you don’t realize how special your talent is.’ I never thought of it like that.”