When the world found itself in the midst of a pandemic nearly a year ago, nurses, doctors and other medical personnel suited up and went to battle as best they could. It was—and is—grueling work, and many thankful citizens did what they could to express their gratitude. From clapping on balconies to sending lunch to emergency rooms, big and small gestures strived to make front-line workers feel appreciated.
And even the front-line workers themselves felt called to help their co-workers.
Stacy Mason, an ICU nurse at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, started a “give what you can, take what you need” pantry for her fellow front-line workers within her health system nearly a year ago, in an effort to help hospital staff get essentials without searching in stores during an already trying time. It grew quickly, and Team Cupboard, as it was dubbed, has helped sustain the staff at Mary Washington Healthcare as the pandemic rages on.
After Mason was covered in a local newspaper, celebrity chef and talk show host Rachael Ray caught wind of the effort and invited Mason to appear on her show via Zoom. Mason, who says she’s a longtime fan of Ray, was surprised with a $10,000 donation from Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day and 1,000 bottles of cleaning products and hand lotion. The donation and the products will help keep Team Cupboard going as Mason and her co-workers await the end of the pandemic. (As of press time, Mason had received her first dose of the vaccine.)
But it’s her patients who lift her spirits the most. “I think what gives me hope is seeing patients do well,” she says. “Seeing patients recover and leave the ICU.” Plus, the promise of seeing family again. “At the beginning of January , my sister-in-law had a baby, and I got to meet her in March. I haven’t seen her or my nephew since. I would really like to go snuggle my niece and nephew in Boston.”