It started rather small. A videographer friend wanted to feed some of the nurses, and he knew several restaurants that were not doing their regular volume of business. He went and asked a local barbecue restaurant if they would help him with the food. In trade he would give their business exposure through Facebook as to how they were helping. It was to have been one time only.
As you have seen Facebook has been the place where all the at home workers seem to be getting their information. Offers began pouring in to help with donations to keep the food going to the nurses every day. There are a lot of nurses near us. Between the two hospitals that are less than a mile from our store there are nearly 4,000 nurses. Obviously, we can’t feed all the nurses every day, yet we move around from floor to floor and to different hospitals.
We had another business friend offer the use of a large moving style truck and commission an artist to create a mural for that truck representing “The Hero Behind the Mask”. One of the nurses, Jennifer Youngwood, agreed to be the model for the mural. We had some nearby businesses including a collision center, offer to help pay for and paint the base coat on the truck over which the artist, Jenna Rice, painted her mural. The mural was later used on a T Shirt by a donating T Shirt Printer. To get donors we began offering T Shirts with the Jenna Rice mural for anyone donating to help with the food costs.
On May 7th we had the 145th Airlift Wing Flight Path come directly over Cone Hospital honoring frontline workers. That seemed to really boost our efforts.
One day as the mural truck was being positioned for display near one of the hospitals a nurse walked up telling my friend that she sure appreciated what everyone was doing and that someone should share that next week is National Nurses Week. She also said that she would like to purchase 125 T shirts for all the staff and nurses on the two floors she oversaw at Cone Hospital. Little did she know that she had said this to the friend who started the whole movement. He told her that he wouldn’t take her money, but that he would get her the requested 125 T shirts. We thought the campaign was ending until the nurse, Jill Moore, shared these things with us. It brought new energy to the efforts and things have really taken off. I had to ask Jill why National Nurses Week began on a Wednesday and ended on a Tuesday. That’s when I learned that it all connected to Florence Nightingale’s birthday being on May 12th. This year would have been her 200th birthday. I learned that Florence Nightingale is credited with being the mother of modern nursing.
Once the shirts were printed requests started pouring in from all over for more T Shirts. Each day someone would step up to pay for another two or three hundred T shirts. We have had insurance companies, musicians, automotive service shops, hotels, remodelers, and all types of businesses step in to help support the project. Donors get their names listed on the truck with the mural. Some days funds to purchase one hundred shirts will be raised in less than an hour. We will have raised funds enough to give every nurse at all three Cone Health Hospitals in Greensboro a “Hero Behind the Mask” T shirt.
Word has been getting out to other communities and states about what we have going on. Requests for T shirts are pouring in. It has been so humbling to see the nurses who turn out for the events say that no one has ever shown them any recognition like this. They are appreciative and I am certain we all appreciate what they are doing to keep us all well. As I spoke recently to one of the head nurses, she shared that we are down to twenty some hospitalized Covid -19 patients in our area. What she also said is that no one recognizes the hundreds of patients that have been cured and walked out of our hospitals. Nurses were there when no one else could attend. Let’s not forget them.
I mention all these things to show how we can each help build our communities. There are some really caring people in the automotive service business. It’s time that we show people where our hearts truly lie. It would have been easy to stroke a check and say that we cared. But let’s be more than that . Let’s join in. Let’s be present for some of these great things happening all around us. Not only does it build unity for your local area; you also represent our industry to your friends. This is the way to change the image of our industry for the better. Find something and join in. There is a whole lot of opportunity available. You will become a true leader and be recognized as such in your community. Let’s get out there and bring up our industry in times like these. It is pretty amazing our there!
To view photo album of the Behind the Mask project click here
To make a donation click here