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caption: A "be nice" mural at Lake City Cafe by Goldsuit (@goldsuit)
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A "be nice" mural at Lake City Cafe by Goldsuit (@goldsuit)
Credit: Mike Hipple

What's good? Silver linings in the time of coronavirus

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in our state, we’ve heard of so many selfless acts that we decided to start a blog to recording them, hoping these stories bring light into your day.

Have you witnessed or experienced a random act of kindness? Write to engage@kuow.org with “What’s Good’ in the subject line, and we’ll feature it here.

Costume shop workers to the rescue

Amanda Mueller is the costume shop manager at ACT Theatre. She, along with many theatre artisans around our region, had been furloughed due to the restrictions on large gatherings brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. One day she had a thought. Since there is a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) at hospitals and clinics, she can put her sewing skills toward producing a different, and much needed, product to protect the hospital workers. Amanda set up a team of costume shop artisans from local theatre companies Seattle Rep, Seattle Opera, and Seattle Children’s theatre, and contacted Providence Health System to offer their services.

Providence Health System sent Amanda, and her newly assembled team, the materials and specifications for the needed masks. And Amanda and her team went to work. They produced 17,500 masks. When asked why she embarked on this effort, Amanda replied “We are all in this together. We have to work together to survive together.”


From musical instruments to face shields

Dusty Strings builds musical instruments in Seattle. Just like most businesses, they have had to temporarily suspend their normal operations. However, with the help of 3D printers and a laser cutter, they have put their energy into producing face shields for health workers who may be in need of these protective equipment. Christy Moores, who works for Dusty Strings wrote “It started because a long-time employee has a son who works as an ER nurse, and there was a direct need for these shields that we could help fill. Dusty Strings has a laser cutter and a 3D printer, and is providing most of the supplies while employees volunteer their time. It's giving us a purpose while our production staff is furloughed at home! And we've heard that they are not only useful to the ER staff, but also a much-needed show of support while they are working so hard with too few resources.” Read the full, and fascinating story here.

Immigrants and refugees cook for their neighbors

The Food Innovation Network (FIN) helps low-income aspiring entrepreneurs launch and scale food businesses in South King County. The business owners primarily come from immigrant and refugee communities, and they offer global cuisines that reflect the diversity of our region, from Nigerian to Kurdish-Iraqi.

The businesses focus on catering, and as you would imagine, the orders dried up due to the current coronavirus crisis. Realizing their community members' need for healthy meals, the entrepreneurs started donating their time and skills to cook more than 1,000 tasty meals that have been given at no cost to families and older adults who need them. The meals are distributed by Somali Youth & Family Club, Congolese Integration Network, and the City of SeaTac. Tilth Alliance, Project Feast, Macrina Bakery, and Des Moines Area Food Bank are supplying food, and community members have contributed more than $2,000 to help purchase ingredients and containers.

more information can be found here.

Awesome tamales (and flowers!)

Freelard Tamales is a small business that cooks and delivers authentic tamales in Seattle. The owners are engaging in three awesome acts of kindness and generosity:

  1. In an effort to support local flower farmers who have also been impacted by COVID19 closures, they are partnering with local Thao Farm & Blong's Garden to bring flower bouquets to their neighbors. Customers can add a flower bouquet to their delivery order of a dozen tamales or more for $10.
  2. If you send tamales to a nurse, doctor, or first responder, Freelard tamales will add a free flower bouquet to the delivery order.
  3. Freelard tamales are offering free meals to those who have lost their jobs, or otherwise negatively affected by this crises. check them out here


Love letters

In these unprecedented times of the coronavirus epidemic, the elderly population can feel isolated and lonely. To add a helping hand, the Woodinville winery, Tinte Cellars, has created "Letters of Love for the Elderly" - handwritten notes and cards delivered to those who may be feeling especially isolated and cut-off from the community right now. They have partnered with the Northshore Senior Center, who will send these love letters to the senior communities served by Northshore, in Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, Mill Creek, and Kirkland.

"Reaching out with words of comfort could be a real game-changer when we are talking about the feeling of isolation," said Corey Lowell, Director of Senior Centers, for Northshore Senior Center. "Anything to make the recipients smile and feel connected to something outside of their house is greatly appreciated."

If you'd like to write your own letter, you can find instructions on how to do so here.

Small gestures, big impact

From Charlotte in Purdy, WA "Last week I called to check on my prescription at Cost Less Pharmacy in Purdy. The pharmacist said it was ready. I asked if could be mailed because I was afraid of being exposed. I am a senior and have been self isolating. This wonderful and thoughtful man said he would deliver my Rx on his way home. And so he did. Left my Rx on the porch by the front door. This gesture made my day"


Supporting the International District

Three community members started a Facebook group called Support the ID in support of businesses in the International District in Seattle because of the effects of the Coronavirus, both economically, and racially.

But as the group gathered thousands of members, the founders of the Facebook group started a gofundme fundraiser where all funds raised will go toward buying food from one of the small locally-owned restaurants, and then be delivered to healthcare workers at a pre-specified hospital or clinic.

Paying it forward

The owner and clinic director at Emerald City Spinal Care, Dr Christine Zapata, has a new tradition. Every Friday, she commits an act of kindness by going to coffee shops in her community and leaving $100 "tabs", so that anybody could come in, order their drink, and it's paid for until that $100 runs out.

So far, she has opened $100 tabs at Mighty O’s on 12th and at General Porpoise on East Union. She plans to do this at different locations every Friday for as long as she can.

Teens helping the homeless

Three students from Juanita High School -- Angelyiah Lim, Fiona Wang , and Aleksandra Cholewinska -- started an organization called Awareness for Homelessness, to give people that are experiencing homelessness some aid. They started with a clothing drive.

Now, they're putting together almost 200 COVID-19 stay-safe care packages. These packages are going to include hand sanitizer, face masks, water, feminine hygiene pads, tissues, wipes, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Each care package is going to sustain each person for multiple days. It's also going to include some note cards that have instructions on how to stay safe during this time of coronavirus.

These kits are going to go to two organizations: The Sophia Way in Bellevue, which is an organization dedicated to ending homelessness for women by providing shelter and social services; and to Tent City 3 in Seattle.


Money for hospitality workers

This pandemic has hit hospitality workers very hard. Jessica Tousignant, took it upon herself to create and launch the Seattle Hospitality Emergency Fund, a fundraiser for hospitality workers whose work hours have been curtailed because of this crisis and need additional help. This fundraiser has more than $143,000 so far!

Build a longer table

Erica Brown was going to refrain from social media during the month of March. Then the schools closed, and she thought of the kids who depend on schools for some of their meals.

So, guided by her family motto “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence,” Erica and her family sprang into action. Check out her Facebook post here.

Flash food drive

Meadowbrook resident Shree Vigil organized a ”flash” food drive on the NextDoor platform, to provide a bag of food to each child of families in the Magnuson housing community. Volunteers took drive-up donations, sorted and packed donations outdoors into bags holding lunches, breakfasts and snacks for five days. Over 270 children were served.

Food for hospital workers

Here’s a story brought to our attention by KUOW listener, Mary Fisher in Whidbey Island: “A wonderful Seattle Restaurant The London Plane – owned by Katheryn Anderson and Matt Dillon – has been making food for UW Hospital workers."

Katheryn and her husband started the program with seed money of theirs and then started a go fund me campaign to raise more money.” You can check out the details on the fundraiser here.

Ellen Kuwana is delivering meals and snacks to overextended healthcare workers around the city.

12 pints of ice cream

A KUOW staff member’s sister is a nurse and has been picking up extra shifts to help with her hospital's influx of patients. Her aunt surprised her and her housemates (all nurses as well) with a mail delivery of 12 pints of ice cream.


Neighborly connections

Alex Mondau writes: "The most pleasant surprise for me has been the authentic smiles and waves from across the street, bike to car, car to car and front yard or window I am getting from neighbors and other islanders. Bike touring around Lopez Island is special because of the culture of everybody waves at everybody there, it takes you an hour or two to get used to but soon enough you are doing it too. On Bainbridge you certainly wave to folks you know, and you know a lot of folks... but this is over the top. People that are on the phone while walking “WFH” drop the phone, make eye contact and say hi from across the street. It’s one of those simple things that reminds me we can practice social distancing without being socially distant."

Jean Bishop writes: "At 80 I feel how lucky I am to have many young friends who keep reaching out to me, shopping for myself and my home bound sister. I was cheered by a great lady today from Safeway delivery who with patience led me thru tech help with the web site. I thanked Jan for taking so much time with me. She said I was the most important person at the time." Masks for health workers

Erin Ramirez writes: "Here in the small town of Snohomish we've always enjoyed the community feel around here, but this pandemic has really put a spotlight on just how amazing this town is! The restaurants are supporting each other by doing takeout for their staff from other restaurants. All of them are also putting together programs to support the front line workers; pizza delivery to the fire station, cupcakes to the grocery store employees. There have been several postings on our neighborhood site with offers of grocery shopping or helping out with chores or child care for our neighbors. It's been heartening to see how the community has taken this time of trial to really come together."

Masks for healthcare workers

From listener Ellen Kritzman: "My community of Vashon is a very cohesive and responsive one. Last week the Vashon Tool Library put out the call for N95 masks (used for dusty home projects, protection against smoke, etc) to be donated — about 300 were, as of this writing, and the majority were delivered to medical facilities in Tacoma, and were gratefully, even tearfully, received. I suggested this to my sister back in New York, and her church found 25 to donate. Any community could make this happen."

Also, listener Thomas Quigley wrote to tell us about a local Woodinville fabric and quilting store has delivered hundreds of home-made protective face masks to various pharmacy and healthcare offices around the Eastside. Thomas writes "Susan Webster is the shop owner and she got her inspiration from a Providence Hospital Everett challenge to produce one-hundred million masks. Susan's loyal customers, mostly avid quilters, have been using their fabric stashes to manufacture hundreds of cloth and elastic masks that are then distributed. Susan has worked with her suppliers to receive additional shipments of elastic that is used for holding the masks in place. She has been donating fabric, as needed. While the masks may not provide absolute protection, they are greatly appreciated by those who have no masks available, at all."


Hello from Zurich

We heard from Rose Haechler Galle in Zurich, Switzerland, who says: "As I listen to you on a daily basis to find out what is happening in my 'other home’, here is what I’ve done in Switzerland: I own a paint your own pottery biz much like Mary Anne slugger’s paint the town in u-village. We’ve been on lock down since Monday a week ago and have scrambled to put together paint-at-home kits, for curbside pickup or home delivery. It’s a huge uphill battle, (I’m 67 and wanted to sell the biz by fall…) but I don’t want my amazing staff to lose their jobs and I don’t want our customers to not have the opportunity to paint."


Faith in times of crisis

Melissa Morell wrote to let us know what her church has been doing. "For the past 3 years, members of Christ Episcopal Church in the University District, have walked around the neighborhood on Sunday afternoons, handing out much needed items and bits of comfort to the homeless in the community. We’ve become known as the people with the cart. We hand out everything from socks and underwear to chocolates and cigarettes – with no questions and no judgment. We just want to provide a little bit of solace. With the current crisis, we’ve been trying to figure out how we can continue our work with the homeless community. We are currently looking at getting dispensation from the state to continue our mission. We are dedicated to continuing – people now rely on us to be there. So instead of letting people choose particular items, we’ll provide pre-made bags, and maintaining social distancing. It is a small way we can continue to help this vulnerable community where Covid-19 feels like the least of their problems."