With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has been put on hold. This public health crisis has strained many sectors of society due to diminishing resources, travel restrictions, and overburdened healthcare workers. Amidst all this, people are rising together to help their communities. Over the past few months, I’ve joined this wave of organizers and created LILAC, a COVID-19 relief organization.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I stumbled upon the social media page of a local legislator, Josh Lafazan, encouraging people to submit Thank You letters for health care workers. Inspired by the idea, I wrote an open letter to health care workers, which was published in my local paper. As schools in New York and Long Island began closing, Mayor de Blasio broadcast the urgent need for protective supplies in NYC. I realized then and there I must do something about the urgent need for PPE within my community. I founded Long Island Laboring Against COVID-19, or LILAC, an organization that raises funds to serve COVID-19 patients, medical professionals, first responders, and frontline workers putting their lives at risk.
I created a GoFundMe on March 23rd, and by May 13th, we’d raised over $17,000 of LILAC’s $20,000 fundraising goal. Also, to meet the enormous demand for more PPE in NYC and Long Island, and inspired and motivated by the philanthropic actions of individuals and businesses, I used my own college savings money to help. With these funds, LILAC ordered 25,000 masks and 1,000 medical coveralls or gowns.
LILAC has also created a ThankYou & WeCare Initiative, which raises the medical community’s spirits by compiling and distributing encouraging letters, cards, artwork, and creative videos for local health workers and patients. We have partnered with local politicians, including Josh Lafazan and New York congressman Tom Suozzi, to donate masks and artwork from this Initiative to hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, fire departments, and local government offices. In addition, we have garnered support from non-profit organizations, magazines, local newspapers, school district administrators, and other community and cultural leaders. I am even rolling out the Initiative with the ten public schools in my school district.
With this outpouring of support, I have been able to radically mobilize my community to help hundreds of people. As LILAC grows, I am seeking other driven students who have the desire to support their communities. There are plenty of ways to get involved, from submitting artwork, letters, and videos to the ThankYou & WeCare Initiatives, to joining the organization itself and making an impact on your local community.
Young people are uniquely positioned in this time to shape the future of our communities. It’s important to use the privileges we have to serve others, whether through strategically allocating resources or shining light on those neglected by society. It’s our duty to help uplift our fellow human beings.
If you are interested in knowing more about how you can join, please check out LILAC’s GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/LILACovid19 or follow our Instagram @LILACovid_19 for more updates!