Memphis kindness blog, March 24: Food for hospital workers, bear hunts and a cake to remember

By Updated: March 31, 2020 1:16 PM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 1:33 PM CT

Editor’s note: As we navigate through this difficult time of dealing with the coronavirus, it is important to capture those instances where  Memphians are coming together for each other.  Those acts of kindness, generous moments and just feel-good instances happening all around us. Our reporters will be out looking for these.  We also want to hear from you. If you have a nomination for our Memphis Kindness blog, email us at memphiskindness@dailymemphian.com.  Thank you for reading.  — Ronnie Ramos, executive editor

 


March 24, 2020

Elwood’s Shack feeds the hardworking folks in health care

7:12 PM CT, March 24

Last year didn’t end on a good note for Tim Bednarski, who had to close Elwood’s Shells in December.

His original restaurant, Elwood’s Shack, was faring OK during the COVID-19 days, but when dining rooms were shut down by the city on Thursday, he regrouped.

He didn’t want to lay off any employees. He wanted to keep curbside and take-out going, but mostly cut out delivery.

And he wanted to help people in need, people he thinks are being overlooked.

“I have dozens and dozens of friends in the healthcare industry,” he said. “I’m seeing them overworked already and this is just the beginning. I don’t think people are respecting them like they should and I wanted to do something for them.”

So he started delivering food. Jambalaya, red beans and rice, turkey, bacon and avocado wraps, chicken and dumplings--good stuff.

“I’m making 300 meals a day and I’m trying to get that up to 600,” he said.

On Monday, he delivered lunch to the ER at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis and people were so grateful he did it again for dinner.

On Tuesday, he went to St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett.

Now he has a schedule booked through Sunday.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the labs one day and critical care the next. Germantown Methodist. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

He plans to start it all again next week.

“For a $250 donation, I can make 150 meals,” he said. “I’ve never asked anybody for a penny in my life, but if they want to donate now, I’m glad to take it.”

Breakfast for the emergency room staff arrived at St. Francis arrived at about 8 a.m. Tuesday: Healthy fruit, chocolate chip cookies and breakfast sandwiches.

“You’d be amazed at what biscuits, eggs and bacon do for people who are working so hard,” said Valerie Burrow, hospital spokeswoman. “The healthcare workers are working so hard, they’re on the front lines and this local restaurant is there trying to boost them up and that’s kind of what we need right now, for our spirits to stay up.”

The ER staff was “thrilled,” Burrow said.

Later on Tuesday, dinner was served to the evening shift, she said.

“One of the nurses cried last night when I went to Baptist,” Bednarski said. “They’re working hard, the cafeterias are cutting back hours, the grocery stores are closing early and opening late so they can’t go when they get off work.”

He put out a call for donations on social media. But he didn’t ask people to donate to him. He asked for pharmaceutical reps and businesses to call a local restaurant and donate meals for healthcare workers — he even put the phone numbers in for Huey’s, Soul Fish, Sweet Grass, The Second Line and others.

He hopes everyone benefits, especially the healthcare workers that are only going to get busier.

“It’s not like people can just show up with food and stuff and take it to the ER. I’ve got everything individually wrapped and packaged, they’re taking my temperature before I can go in. I sanitize the truck before I go and when I leave—I’ve actually hired a new employee and all he does is sanitize everything we touch,” Bednarski said. “So this is a way for everyone to help. I’ve never done anything like this, where people are so appreciative and so happy to see me coming.”

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A song for everyone while you are “Safe at Home”

12:17 PM CT, March 24

Ted Horrell, spends his day as superintendent as the Lakeland School System, a job  – like every school across the Shelby County – means working at home with no classes held indefinitely.

But by night, Horrell spends time as a musician as leader of a local group called the Monday Night Card. 

Stuck inside of Lakeland with the coronavirus blues again, Horrell spent some time writing a song about the plight of the nation encouraged to stay home and a suggestion on what to do.

Horrell said on his Facebook page that he is “sharing it now, which is unusual for me. It’s my contribution to the burgeoning quarantine genre called Safe at Home.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we present songwriter Ted Horrell. Click here (this is worth your four minutes):

 

 

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Making it through with the help of the Hulk

11:36 AM CT, March 24
 

 

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Bear Hunt delivers smiles during pandemic

11:39 AM CT, March 24

One 1989 children’s book is coming to life during the COVID-19 crisis.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen depicts five children going on a bear hunt and running into various obstacles they have to overcome.

Similarly, people cannot go around the effects of the coronavirus. They are having to go through it.

Across the country, people are providing fun for others to find by placing teddy bears in windows.

Earlier this week, Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald encouraged residents to join the national movement, and other Shelby County residents placed the stuffed animals in their windows to bring smiles.

Residents are encouraged to drive or walk and count bears they see peeking out the window.

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No toilet paper was harmed in the making of this cake

10:57 AM CT, March 24

Debra Sisson’s family, which includes four children and five grandchildren, always get together to celebrate the five birthdays in March.

Not so this year, with the coronavirus global pandemic  keeping loved ones far apart.

But Sisson’s 64th birthday was memorable nonetheless, thanks to the talents of family baker, daughter, Lydia Farmer, from Collierville.

“She decided to make me a cake. And she decided to make me a toilet paper cake, in light of the circumstances,” said Sisson, who lives in Germantown.

Toilet paper may be hard to find, but as real as this roll looks, it’s not the real deal.

“It’s just something she did to bright up my day,” Sisson said.

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March 23, 2020

Let’s have a parade

5:24 PM CT, March 23

The students at Bailey Station Elementary School in Collierville did not return to classes as scheduled today. The coronavirus kept the students at home.

But their teachers wanted to connect with the children and took to the suburban streets – complete with stop lights and a train – to show how much they missed their students.

And, who was riding along with the teachers? Columnist Geoff Calkins, who brings us the sights and sounds of the teachers parade here as part of our new Kindness Blog.

 

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Here’s a way to help

4:45 PM CT, March 23

Shelby County Commission Chairman Mark Billingsley said one of the ways people can help is to donate to the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

The fund provides flexible funding to organizations serving community members who have been impacted by novel coronavirus and the economic consequences of the pandemic in West Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and North Mississippi. 

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We’ll get by, with a little help

1:32 PM CT, March 23

What would you think if I sang out of tune?

Because believe me, that’s what I do. And yet, there I was with more than 100,000 friends I’d never met singing like I knew what I was doing.

And nobody cared.

Partly because we couldn’t hear one another in our virtual, worldwide singalong but also partly because our musical proficiency wasn’t what mattered. Our mutual sanity was.

Choir! Choir! Choir! is the creation of two Canadians, Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman. They began the project in Toronto as a community-building exercise, a way for people to come together over the past nine years in public places across Canada and the U.S. to sing a few songs, make a few friends and feel a little better.

Feeling better is what we all need right now, but the coming together is a problem. So Goldman and Adilman did the next best thing over the weekend. They held a virtual online singalong Saturday, March 21. Anyone wanting to participate could download the lyrics to a dozen or so songs and join in on Facebook or YouTube for an hour or so of being together apart.

More than 100,000 people, from Tasmania to the Yukon to, yes, Memphis, signed on to sing along. Some sent videos. A deluge live-chatted. It was a worldwide hug set to music, really bad music for some of us. Goldman and Adilman promise they’ll be doing more such events during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We realized people need this sense of togetherness, specifically now more than ever, because they actually can’t get together physically in any way,” Goldman told HuffPost late last week ahead of the singalong. “We picked songs about isolation and friendship.”

That’s the way we have to think for the foreseeable future. Be safe, be creative and find ways to comfort ourselves and one another. Or maybe just show simple acts of kindness that remind of us we’re in this together. We’re already seeing examples.

Taylor Caruthers, the landlord for several local restaurants, told his tenants not to worry about rent for April.

A hungry angel who doesn’t want to be identified, a regular customer of restaurants owned by Kelly English, is laying out a large chunk of cash for English to help laid-off employees.

The YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South stepped up to make sure Shelby County Schools kids get fed after SCS had to suspend its program when a nutrition services worker tested positive for COVID-19.

So we know what to do, Memphis. And we’re doing it. The Daily Memphian is launching a new daily live blog that will be dedicated to the things we’re doing – some creative, some simple – to help one another get through this. We’ll do it for as long as there’s a need, so check daily and check often to see Memphis being Memphis at its best. And let us know at kindness@dailymemphian.com of anything you’ve seen or experienced.

Because we all get by with a little help from our friends.

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Applauding for all she’s worth on porch in Midtown

1:12 PM CT, March 23

Catherine Hutchison is one of those people who somehow knows the power of one. And doesn’t shrink from it.

When she saw favorite blogster Karen McCann and her neighbors from their porches, up and down their street in Spain, cheering for healthcare workers, Hutchison was on a mission.

“If they can do that in Spain, we can do it in Memphis, don’t you think?” she says.



Every night at 8 p.m., Hutchison is on her porch on Peach Street, applauding for all she’s worth with hand-made signs and a hat of the night.

 “I had beret, I thought, heck, I’ll put it on; it will be more interesting,” she says.

Since then, there’s been a floppy, summer party hat and a snug-fitting, red-knit number.

The charm is her unabashed enthusiasm, clapping in the night in the light of lone porch light while her husband, Lee, videos the production.

“I have a lot of good friends who work in healthcare. It’s horrible to think about those people not having enough protective gear,” Hutchison said.

The response has been quieter.

“A friend I used to teach with is doing it in her neighborhood in East Memphis,” she said.

Another has joined remotely in Baltimore. A number of people have called to say they are watching in their living rooms.

The message, at the suggestion of another friend, broadened Sunday night to include workers stocking shelves and making home deliveries to a newly confined customer base.

“We’d be sunk if all those people went home.”

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