By Cameron Albert
A Facebook group formed on March 24th is bringing meals to the employees of Southside Hospital in Bayshore to show appreciation during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The group named “The Islips Feed Southside Hospital Employees,” was started by Patricia Byrne Blair, a resident of East Islip and has grown to a community of over 2,500 members. With the help of over 40 local restaurants, they have been able to send 200 meals a day since they started operations.
“I was directed by a friend to look and see what the Huntington Community had done for the employees at Huntington Hospital and I modeled our Facebook group after that,” Blair said. “The feedback from the hospital and employees has been nothing short of tremendous. We are so grateful for what they are doing.”
Blair began her efforts by speaking with two restaurant owners who agreed to work with the group. Once they were on board, ‘The Islips Feed Southside Hospital Employees’ was born.
“We were contacted about making a donation to Southside and said absolutely, let’s see what we can do,” Diesel Cold Brew Inc. owner Chad Vallejo said. “We reached out to our roasters who we have a great relationship with and they were able to be a big help to our donation.”
After an abundance of requests for other ways to help, she set up an account on Venmo for those looking to make monetary donations. In just over a week the group raised over $33,000 dollars.
“I was looking into how to have food delivered to those on the front lines in this battle, and the coordinated effort makes so much sense,” donor Karen McNulty Walsh said.
Some of the restaurants the group have been able to partner with were making donations on their own, Blair said. The money raised is being used to help these small businesses offset costs and in some cases, keep employees paid.
“We have been serving the community for 43 years,” owner of Fratelli’s Pizzeria, Vinny Desiderio, said. “We have made several donations to the hospital and are making more donations to Southside next week.”
In an effort to raise money, ‘The Islip’s Feed Southside Hospital Employees’ group was able to work with local musician Joe Soulo for a charity two hour virtual concert-livestream. The show helped raise over $2,000.
Employees of Southside Hospital have shared photos and posts expressing their gratitude for the helping hand offered by the Islip community.
“I don’t think you guys understand how much you guys as a community have brightened our day up,” employee of Southside Hospital ER, Marc Lawrence Magallanes posted. “The amount of donations we have been getting, the support, and the little messages that are written with the food are just astounding and we cannot thank you guys enough.
As of April 8th, Suffolk County has 16,901 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 4,152 in the Town of Islip where Southside Hospital resides. ‘The Islips Feed Southside Hospital Employees’ are scheduled to continue their donations until at least April 17th and are hoping to help for even longer.