Workers prepare supplies at a Project Pollination effort in Manila.

COVID-19 hasn’t slowed down philanthropists like Ashley Fruno. She is still helping those in need through the current world health pandemic.

Fruno, from Surrey, British Columbia, has been working for The Pollination Project (TPP), an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to spark goodness and compassion in every person through a daily practice of generosity and grantmaking. As of 2019, TPP has awarded 3,500 grants to grassroots leaders totaling more than $4,000,000 in over 110 countries.

Fruno works in a cemetery in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, where 300 families and hundreds of children literally live among graves. Days after lockdown due to COVID-19 in this community, Fruno began hearing that the families she served were panicking. Children already missed several meals.

The government in the area is leery of allowing people to distribute aid because the situation is desperate and they worry it might be unsafe for volunteers, according to officials from the Pollination Project. However, since Fruno was already known and respected, they made an exception. She was awarded a grant from The Pollination Project for her efforts through its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.

Fruno spends her time prioritizing families with children but makes sure everyone has enough staples like rice and beans to last three weeks. She brings food for pets, too. (Fruno is a long-time animal-rights activist). She hasn't had a day off in five months. She is one of 3,943 TPP grantees working in 115 countries. What it's been like for her working through COVID-19? “Terrifying,” Fruno told CMSWire. “We learned that there is a COVID case in the cemetery community. Perhaps the worst news is that the COVID patient, who is asymptomatic and was only tested prior to admission to a hospital to give birth, was sent home. She returned to a community in which isolation is impossible and therefore has infected countless others.”

Fruno said she and countless other volunteers like her don’t take this risk lightly. “And we are terrified,” she said. “I think I can speak for all the volunteers who have committed to being there in saying that we're scared. Scared of getting sick. Scared of making others sick. Scared we won’t be able to handle the heat in a (Personal Protective Equipment) PPE suit. But our community is undoubtedly more scared than us. They’re not just scared of the virus, but scared of going hungry. They’re scared of not being able to feed their children.”

Fruno (pictured far left in the photo below) said they understand that the cemetery community’s movements are likely to be further restricted, and sadly, Fruno added, the cemetery residents may be stigmatized. “We know that this community needs us now more than ever,” she said. “And that is reason enough for us to soldier on.”

Members of The Pollination Project in Manila, Philippines pose for a picture.

In some other "good news" ...

Safety Equipment Company Serves Chicago Front-Line Workers

The Magid Glove & Safety Manufacturing Company in Romeoville, Ill., is a family business that has been manufacturing and distributing safety equipment since 1946. They started in Chicago right after WWII and have steadily grown ever since.

These days, they’re spending a lot of time making sure first-responders in their area are well-protected. Magid has already donated more than 275,000 PPEs to hospitals, first responders and front line workers, people who have been essential through this crisis.

As of May 22, the company has donated:

  • 73,710 N95 masks
  • 8,000 N95 masks to Magid team households
  • 26,200 medical masks
  • 167,300 disposable gloves
  • 1,924 soft side goggles

And they are not done yet. Magid is planning to make more donations in the days/weeks ahead. They're also helping the likes of Google source masks for massive donations.

Magid workers hold up signs as they flank boxes they are about to donate to Chicago-area first-responders.

Artist Runs Fundraiser for Mental Health Awareness

Mental health is always a matter to be taken very seriously, especially during a pandemic. Artist Carly Long has started a charitable fundraiser that began Thursday, May 28, in light of Mental Health Awareness Month and in support of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery, according to Long.

Long said she was laid off from her job in public relations at a luxury event planning and design firm due to coronavirus but used her skills to gather celebrities, influencers, professional athletes, etc. willing to paint their photograph for this charitable series. With her gallery partner, Five 3 Gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif., she is hosting the silent auction for a custom painting to raise funds for TWLOHA. People can get involved by donating directly on the fundraising page, and the highest donator will receive a custom painting from Long.

A painting by Carly Long of New England Patriots player Mohamed Sanu hugging a teammate.

“I created my artistic technique of painted photography during a period of my life when I was suffering from depression and anxiety,” Long told CMSWire. “My purpose behind painting directly on photographs was to bring happy moments, feelings, etc. back to life and really feel those emotions as I recreated the painting. As I started sharing my work, people really took to the style, and it became my signature look. Nowadays, as I've done a lot of work and received a lot of help to be at optimum mental health, I wanted to use my art and my gift to give back to those who might be struggling themselves. Ideally, one day I would love to turn my method into an actual art therapy practice.”

Got any good news? We're listening. This is not in our customary wheelhouse of digital customer experience and digital workplace news. But we've tossed out the playbook just a bit in favor of some weekly good news through this pandemic. We all need it now, right? Send your feel-good stories to [email protected] Check out the other pieces our ongoing series to help keep the good vibes coming in a time of crisis.