Something inspiring is happening amid the chaos and uncertainty of life right now. Everyday angels, heroes, and champions are extending kindness, consideration, and gratitude throughout our communities to those on the frontlines of today’s most urgent battle.
Across our region, members of the Michael Saunders & Company family are exemplifying the meaning of togetherness while maintaining distance by performing good deeds for essential workers. From baking cookies to thank you notes from children and to handmade face masks, our associates and staff are showing that even small acts are grand gestures.
Appreciating hospital workers
Kindness is contagious and with the power of social media, it can spread pretty quickly. A few weeks ago, agents Rebecca Milbank and Toma Milbank from our Lakewood Ranch office wanted to give back to local medical staff in the area. Rebecca said it started as an idea to make hospital staff appreciation bags and teach their own children about helping others.
“We’re pretty fortunate that we can social distance ourselves right now,” Rebecca said. “This is a small way to show medical staff that we care.”
The Milbanks planned to make 300 bags to be distributed to three local hospitals – Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and Manatee Memorial – all with the facilities’ approval. They bought prepackaged treats, snacks and Ziplock bags, and armed with gloves and masks, began making the gifts. Rebecca posted a picture of the progress on her personal social media page to show their efforts.
“After we posted our little project on Facebook, the response was incredible! People wanted to help and we received enough donations to do over 800 bags and adding a fourth drop to Doctors Hospital,” Rebecca said.
There were so many people who wanted to help in other ways but trying to limit exposure to germs meant there weren’t too many options.
“Then we thought why not get kids in our community involved by asking them to create a thank you drawing or note that we would then print out and put in each bag. We posted it on Facebook and the response from our community has been incredibly heartwarming,” she said.
“Every drawing that we have received has made us smile so we have no doubt the hospital staff will love getting them too,” Rebecca said. “This little project has taken over our house, but it’s absolutely worth it. We always want to show our kids that even in difficult times we can do our part to lift others up. It’s also been fun to show them the power of community. When people come together great things can happen!”
Sweet treats for essential workers
In a similar spirit across town, Debbie Capobianco of the Anna Maria Island office, has rallied her local connections to give back to those who deserve it most. Realizing that essential workers like medical and first responders, daycare workers and even local grocery store clerks would be putting themselves at risk to serve the community, Debbie thought of a way to show her support.
Taking to social media and firing up the phone tree, Debbie began organizing donations to provide food and treats as a symbol of appreciation. Family, friends, and customers answered Debbie’s call and began showing their support. A former customer and now friend began baking cookies, while local stores offered discounts for food and supplies.
A local pizza restaurant and ice cream parlor gave Debbie discounts, and teaming with her husband, they began delivering the goods. One of the first stops was Blake Hospital in Bradenton. Then, they delivered to West Manatee Fire Rescue Stations 1 and 3. Their third stop was a local Publix to feed the staff who are working hard to keep the shelves stocked.
Debbie said as long as the donations keep coming, they’ll be delivering items. Not only are these efforts helping those on the front line but supporting local businesses during this time as well.
“You give where you live; we’re just giving back,” Debbie said. “Especially in our field, we’re a service industry, you know. We have to give back, it’s very important. Give them a little sunshine – who doesn’t like pizza?”
Chocolate chip heaven
What combats concern and stress better than comfort food? Armed with a mixing bowl, quality ingredients and a tried-and-true recipe, Amy Drake representing EPOCH from MSC’s New Homes & Condominiums Division found a sweet way to pass along a little happiness.
“I wanted to spread a little cheer,” she said. “A lot of people don’t like to cook or bake, and I do like to share that gift. It makes me very happy. And I figured many people would loosen their restrictions on eating carbs and sugar.”
Amy’s chocolate chip cookie recipe yields about 100 cookies, which she then packaged in baggies decorated with her own crafted brand – S.I.P. 2020 – to mean Stay In Place. Going door to door and maintaining distance, she left the treats on doorsteps of her friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
She said the response was resounding and people are already asking for another batch. Amy plans to deliver cookies to Longboat Key and St. Armands first responders.
“They probably need a little sugar right now,” she said.
Helping the healers
The husband of Christy Heisey, a Realtor with our Bradenton office, is a medical professional at an urgent care center and knows first-hand the desperate need for medical supplies. Equipped with a sewing machine and some spare fabric, Christy found a sewing pattern online for face masks.
She found that layering and added protection is key for helping nurses and medical staff keep themselves safe while assisting patients. The fabric masks are machine washable and worn over their medical-grade protection. So far, Christy has made about six masks but plans to make more as needed.
“I’ll make them until they have enough, or I run out of material. I see how exhausted he is and how frustrated he is because they’re bombarded with patients, so this so something I can do to help him,” she said.
Vocal for Local
Committed to keeping the community strong and informed, Manager Mary Smedley and the Englewood office team have coined the phrase “Vocal for Local”. Showcasing local stores, services, and restaurants, Vocal for Local provides information to the community on ways to support businesses that are open during the current health crisis.
It also allows businesses to help the community by providing adaptive services that still meet needs, such as car maintenance, delivery options and provisions. It also offers the community an opportunity to help local businesses that have had to close but hoping to re-open when the area returns to normal.
Information about Vocal for Local can be found on the Englewood Chamber of Commerce site.