Five weeks into our quarantine and I feel that my family has been doing what everyone else is doing. We adopted a new kitten, started an herb garden, and tried camping in the backyard. We walk and scooter at least once daily and had a family Zoom Seder. And we bake a lot of banana bread. We all know that we are staying home to protect our community and ourselves during this difficult time for the entire world. Never before have we experienced a worldwide trauma such as this. And we are handling it OK.
Some people are doing more. Some people are reaching out to a friend who is a nurse or a doctor to see what they can do for that person. I have done that. Some people have fed medical professionals. My sister has done that. Some people have shared daily use masks with others. My cousin has done that.
And then there is Angela Engel, a Minneapolis native. Her lifelong childhood friend is a doctor on the frontlines of the coronavirus, who needed PPE stat. Instead of merely procuring a few masks and shields for him, Angela decided to partner with friend and creator Jeanne Swartz of Joona Fabriculture Upholstery. It was the ultimate networking of preschool moms, as set up by mutual friend Alicia Cernitz Schwartz. I too was a preschool mom with this incredible group when I lived in Oakland, and attended Temple Beth Abraham.
Angela could always be counted on to run the Saturday morning preschool services, throw together a last-minute tot family Seder in her home, procure a bagel brunch for a new mom (me) and have your kids over to play at a moment’s notice. She is not only the idea person, but a “make it happen” woman as another friend would say.
Angela is no stranger to jumping in to help, as she currently volunteers as the Diversity Chair at Thornhill Elementary School. In the past she has implemented a “Read-A-Thon” and served as the VP of Fundraising, which oversees all of the budgeting for school events. She was also very active in the Oakland Teachers’ Strike last year, organizing volunteers and meals.
There is such a confidence to the way Angela shares an idea, and just runs with it, before she or anyone else can talk her out of it. That confidence led her and Jeanne to start a Go Fund Me campaign just 24 hours after hearing about the dire need of her friend. This team keeps raising their goal, and to date has received $28,000 in donations, which is being used to create masks and shields. Their PPE products are literally put right into the hands of medical professionals in California and New York. So far they have created 5,000 shields, and now have materials to make almost 10,000 more.
Angela shares what keeps her motivated. “I think my vision is truly to figure out how the fund can sustain itself through AMT COVID-19 Relief Fund, and help raise awareness around the issue of PPE products for not only the first responders, but also OB-GYN departments, testing centers, janitorial staff and more.”
Her passion has inspired her three daughters as well. Angela shares, “My girls are amazing. They see what I am doing. They want to know who the shields are going to. They love seeing the pictures we are receiving from nurses, doctors, firefighters and ambulance drivers.” Her kids proudly ask, “Mom is that your shield you helped make?” Angela loves that her daughters get to “see the boxes loaded into the garage for select drivers to pick up. We are all practicing social distancing so I am very careful that they are inside and truly see the action from the window.”
Thanks to the work that Angela, Jeanne, and so many others are doing, I feel that we will all get back out from behind our windows a little sooner and a whole lot safer.
Rachel Teichman is a freelance writer living in Houston, where she is a contributor to The Buzz Magazines. For more information, visit www.rachelteichman.com or find her at @craftsandcrumbs on Instagram.