Gabriella Hu ’21 sets up an initiative to thank those “risking their lives on the front lines of the COVID pandemic.”

This summer 25 students were accepted in the CSGC grants program. These grants are funded due to the generous support of the Cost, Earle/Mendillo and Workman families, who established endowment funds to support the community and public service endeavors of future generations of Deerfield students. For more information on these grants please visit: https://deerfield.edu/csgc/grants.

One day this spring just as the COVID cases in New York city were beginning to dramatically increase, my dad came home from his job at the hospital and described how hopeless the medical workers were. Living in Illinois, we were a couple weeks behind the East Coast for COVID spikes, but all the hospital staff knew that a surge of COVID patients was inevitable. This got me thinking about how I could help from the safety of my own home. A few hours later, I saw that a friend from King’s Academy had started an initiative called Kelmeh Helweh to send notes to medical workers, security guards, and COVID patients. I reached out to him and soon founded Kind Words USA. People submit messages addressed to medical workers via our website, Facebook, or Instagram. Once I receive someone’s note, I copy it onto a card that I decorate, and send it to a hospital in a major city in the US.

My goal with this project was to thank medical workers battling COVID every day. In the matter of a few weeks, these individuals became our superheroes risking their lives on the front lines of the pandemic. Rather than taking time to stay home and respect our medical workers, many people chose to or were forced to continue on with their normal lives. Countless hospital ICU’s exceeded capacity and hospital staff were forced to work extremely long hours. Kind Words USA sends cards to these hard workers in order to thank them for their dedication to saving people and to bring a little joy to their days. One of my favorite messages that I received was from a girl who was inspired by doctors and their ability to be “the ray of sun on a cloudy day.” So many medical workers go above and beyond in their work every day to be a glimmer of hope in the bleakest of times. For this, they deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.

Additionally, this organization is a way to connect with countless people across the US and the world. Being stuck at home for the entire spring term urged me to find alternative ways to connect with my peers. As Kind Words USA expanded, I reached out to more and more peers to help grow the movement. I have been in close contact with students from Deerfield, Exeter, Andover, schools in New York City, and students from other countries. Although we are hundreds of miles apart, we have been collaborating to solve many different problems. I have met a multitude of young change makers who I would never have met otherwise.

I would like to thank the Earle and Mendillo families for their generosity in funding my organization and helping provide hundreds of more messages to hospital staff and other people in need! Their financial help will be used to send larger packages of cards and to increase our online presence.

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