By Gloria Lu
From a local contagion in January to a global pandemic in March, Covid-19 is the “Black Swan” that most of us have only heard of in arts and literatures depicting horrific plagues in ancient history. As many Asian-Americans in Bridgewater and surrounding areas have deep roots in China and beyond, many of us find ourselves emotionally attached to the health crisis as it quickly spirals from Asia to our hometowns in New Jersey.
With tremendous supports and compassions from local residents, core members from the Bridgewater Chinese American Association (BCAA), Henry Wang, Jean Lee, Chris Zhang, Chad Wang, TianJiao Wang and Carol Shi formed an action committee, and jump-started numerous volunteering efforts. Five sub-teams have been focusing on Finance, Hospital Communications, Supply Chain, News/Media, and Donations to maximum efficiency as we coordinate with hundreds of residents and many local hospitals, agencies, oversea manufactures, local municipalities and more.
As of March 23, 1) total monetary donation by residents & friends was $16,160; 2) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) purchases included 744 isolation gowns and 10 boxes of goggles; and 3) personal donations included 11 boxes of gloves (~ 100/box), 18 boxes of N95, surgical and other types of masks (50-100/box), and 15 boxes of disinfectant wipes.
On Tuesday March 24 alone, BCAA donated PPEs to the Bridgewater Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Chief of Police, the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas (New Brunswick) Hospital, and the Robert Wood Johnson Somerset (Bridgewater) Hospital. All left over items as of today will be donated to the RWJ Barnabas Health Center in Livingston, NJ. When dropping off supplies at the Bridgewater Township today, Wells Winegar, Deputy Township Administrator, and Paul Payne, Captain of the Police Department, expressed sincere gratitude to the local Chinese community while practicing social distancing!
Some heartwarming actions include:• Jean Lee and Ernie Hsieh drove their 15-person van, 2 hours each way, from Bridgewater to Delaware to pick up 120 boxes of PPEs on Sunday March 22. Note: the 120 boxes were for the Bridgewater and Bedminster Chinese American Associations. • 19+ families acted swiftly in 2 days to provide their donations which were eventually delivered to the Bridgewater Township OEM. Families and volunteers made countless trips to drop off or collect donations. • One resident donated 1,000 surgical masks. Her friend in China generously offered the masks for free!• One resident’s friend made a one-time donation of $2,000. She has been instrumental in connecting us with area hospitals. • Two residents donated $500 each. • A small number of middle school and high school students built the BCAA Covid-19 website in a matter of days.
As everyone is feeling the domino effect of the outbreak, many of us are fortunate to find comfort and resilience with abundance of supplies, food, shelter and quality time with loved ones. If you haven’t, please consider any support that you could provide to families and businesses who are facing dire economic prospects. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d like to hear ideas and/or inspiring stories too!