Fifth Former Laurence Brady, Jr., along with his younger brother and a group of friends, saw a need to support the healthcare workers within their communities and got right to work to fulfill it. A student from Hartsdale, NY, Laurence helped start the Friends4Frontlines New York (F4FNY) project after talking to his uncle, Dr. Randy Taylor, an Emergency Room doctor at White Plains Hospital. Dr. Taylor works the night shift and told a friend that the food donations at the ER had been amazing, but that often the night shift was overlooked. Laurence and his friends quickly realized they could not only supply overnight healthcare workers with meals, they could also support local businesses that were struggling.
Laurence and his friends started a GoFundMe page in April 2020 with the goal of raising $1,000; within 10 days, they had raised over $6,000 and were able to deliver meals to healthcare workers on the night shifts at several hospitals in lower Westchester County, NY through mid-May. Throughout the spring, F4FNY raised money to have nearly 2,000 meals delivered to frontline workers and infused local delis and restaurants in Greenburgh, Ardsley, Elmsford, White Plains, and Valhalla with $11,000 in new sales. “Being a part of Friends4Frontlines is important to me because it is a unique way to give back to my community,” Laurence shared. “I have always been someone who has enjoyed volunteering and serving others whenever they are in need. As a result of the pandemic, my opportunities to help others have become very limited, so being a part of F4FNY still allows me to do something I enjoy.”
After a successful spring, the F4FNY members have begun requesting further donations to continue their mission and fuel healthcare workers in Westchester. “In recent weeks, Westchester has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases at area emergency rooms. F4FNY felt compelled to answer the call to help boost morale of area emergency room staff,” the group said. “Friends4Frontlines have re-started our fundraising effort between Thanksgiving and New Years to let our frontline hospital workers know that we appreciate their work and the sacrifices they make to serve our community.” All donated funds go directly to the small businesses providing the meals—including Ardsley Cucina, The Pizza Shop, Rye Roadhouse, and Valhalla Deli, among others—and have been donated to overnight workers at White Plains Hospital, Westchester Medical Center, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, Blythedale Children’s Hospital, and Phelps Hospital.
Not only did the Friends4Frontlines group of teens come up with the idea for the project, but they also handle all the logistics. F4FNY contacts various hospitals to find out if they are accepting food donations and whether they have any requests or restrictions for food items, for example, if the items must be individually wrapped or if they are dietary needs. The group then coordinates the food drop-off specifics, including timing and any security measures, before calling the local delis and restaurants to order the food. Since most restaurants are not open at 10:00 PM, F4FNY arranges to pick up the food and hold it until it can be delivered—usually with the help of their parents, since none in the group is yet able to drive. They do drop-offs individually to maintain social distancing, wear gloves and masks, and include a note of thanks to their “frontline heroes.”
“At the end of the day, there are people who work countless hours just to make sure that we are safe,” Laurence said. “It is a personal priority for me to ensure that those individuals know they are appreciated. I hope that one day this idea can turn into something much bigger and will benefit communities all over the nation.”
Director of the D’Amour Center for Faith, Service, & Justice, and Laurence’s teacher, Tracy Garcia-LaVigne shared, “This fall I have been fortunate to get to know Laurence as a leader both in and outside of the classroom. His commitment to serving and supporting our essential caregivers is a model of servant leadership. We are grateful for his contributions both on and off the hilltop. He's a true Saint!”