Community activists and local restaurants are using their newly found free time resulting from Gov. Cuomo’s stay-at-home mandate to give back to the workers fighting the pandemic at the frontlines.
Food for the Fearless is one such initative that raises monies through its GoFundMe page to provide meals to hospital workers across the city and in Nassau County. The meals are provided at cost by Bourbon Street and One Station Plaza in Bayside and Austin’s Ale House in Kew Gardens.
“As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, it became more and more clear to me that I was in a position to create a project that would be able to provide support to our healthcare professionals in a time they need it the most,” said organizer Mark Boccia, whose father is the majority shareholder of the three restaurants. “At this point Food for the Fearless was not just a project I wanted to make happen, it has become my responsibility to do the best I possibly could.”
Boccia and other volunteers are operating on requests via its GoFundMe page and have already donated to various NewYork-Presbyterian locations, multiple Northwell Health locations and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. As of April 7, Food for the Fearless was less than $2,000 short of its $50,000 goal, but Boccia says the initiative will continue for as long as the monetary support it accumulates allows.
“This is about so much more than just meals,” said Boccia. “Food for the Fearless is a vehicle that allows the community to provide our local healthcare professionals with the recognition and support they deserve during this crisis.”
Similarly, Whitestone resident Karra Puccia, along with the Daniel Copersino Foundation, the Unsung Sibling Foundation and Jessica Baeza and Alfredo Centola of We Love Whitestone, have organized a GoFundMe page for their initiative, Help Our Healthcare Heroes, which also raises funds to feed medical professionals in Queens and Manhattan and on Long Island.
“There is strength in numbers. Over the past few weeks we have seen local residents come together to raise money to donate food to our heroes on the front lines,” the page reads. “We decided to work together and raise money for meals and potentially supplies for our hospitals in need.”
As part of the project, Puccia partnered with Whitestone’s Bagel Parlor owner, Gerardo Natale, to provide EMT workers at Fort Totten with 150 meals on April 5.
“The work that Karra Puccia, Unsung Siblings and We Love Whitestone are doing collectively is amazing and we here at Bagel Parlor are honored to be able to help them provide a home-cooked meal to all of the amazing frontline workers,” said Natale.
Natale had donated bagels and coffee free of cost to NY-P Queens hospital workers as part of Puccia’s initiative “as a show of good faith,” and additionally has set up his own separate movement, “Buy a Dozen or coffee,” within his own restaurant that encourages patrons to donate a meal to frontline workers, which Natale will deliver.
As of April 7, the Help Our Healthcare Heroes initiative had reached nearly $4,000 of its $10,000 goal.