By Chelsea Brown
ROCHESTER, NY – COVID numbers are rising once again and the effects are being felt both globally and within the Rochester community. As healthcare workers continue to battle around the clock, one Penfield woman plans to help medical staff at area hospitals while supporting the local dining industry.
“We started this fundraiser because we wanted to help nurses and doctors who work at Rochester General Hospital,” said Penfield resident Carmela Procopio. “And the point is to not only help doctors and nurses but local restaurants as well.”
Procopio, whose sister is a clinical nurse specialist at Rochester General Hospital, started the fundraiser after hearing about the extensive overtime required by hospital staff and the extreme measures being taken to protect and save patients receiving care.
“[My sister] has been asked to actually create rooms where there is no equipment. Imagine being told to build a whole new hospital floor head-to-toe from empty conference rooms.” Said Procopio, “And now she’s on the fourth floor that she’s created from scratch.”
What started as a way to feed overworked medical staff evolved into a fundraiser that would also benefit local restaurants struggling with COVID-19 restrictions. When Procopio realized that dining establishments were unable to donate meals due to their current financial hardship, she decided to do something that would help them, too.
“Restaurants are struggling as well, and they probably can’t afford to help right now,” said Procopio. “We thought maybe we should reach out to individuals in the community to donate so we can help the restaurants too.”
Procopio set up a GoFundMe page which has already brought in over $700 in donations. Last week she was able to purchase the fundraiser’s first order from Roam Café and deliver it to staff working overtime at RGH.
“We were able to provide 20 meals to the hospital staff, and they were extremely happy,” said Procopio. “They were having a really bad day, so providing them with a meal, it was just perfect.”
Procopio says she plans to organize a meal for hospital staff every week, hoping to add additional meals as support grows. The next order, planned for Thursday, will be provided by Heintzelman’s BBQ Pit in Ontario, a family run restaurant that has been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Procopio’s efforts are felt by both hospital staff and restaurant owners alike as she continues to support the local community.