When Vito Cortesiano and his employees donated food from Salvatore’s of Elmont to the medical staff of Long Island Jewish Valley Stream on March 27, they saw overwhelmed nurses standing on the sides in silence.
“It was a scary site,” Cortesiano, who owns Salvatore’s, recounted. “We all left praying for them, and hoping that they will also be OK.”
It was then that he decided to help out, and he proceeded to call Northwell Health’s Community Relations office to see what he could do. Edward Fraser, vice president of Northwell’s community relations, then told Cortesiano about a fundraiser he created to buy all 17,000 nurses in the 23 Northwell hospitals and more than 800 ambulatory sites gifts of appreciation during National Nurses Week — the first week of May.
Fraser started the fundraiser, he explained, because many events they had scheduled for the week have been cancelled, as nurses work 10 to 12 hour shifts dealing with an influx in patients due to the coronavirus pandemic. To make it worse, he said, 2020 was supposed to be the International Year of the Nurse, commemorating Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. Nightingale is credited with establishing the principles of modern nursing and hospital sanitization.
“It’s so important to support them,” Fraser said, writing on the fundraiser, “During this time, we should be giving back and going over and above for the ones who have comforted us, cared for us or our loved ones at one time or another.”
Hearing this, Corteiano decided to use donations he received from throughout the country, after he posted in early March that Salvatore’s would offer students free lunches and a place to do their homework, towards the cause.
He also set up a Facebook fundraiser on April 6. All of the funds collected will go towards surprises and gifts for the nursing staff “to thank them for their hard work and dedication in keeping our communities safe,” Cortesiano wrote on the fundraising page.
At the end of the month, he noted, he would post the amount they have raised, and in the end, he and his wife, Anna, would present the nurses’ directors a check that they would use to buy gifts and gift cards for the nursing staff. Additionally, he said, they would release red, white and blue balloons for everyone who has perished during this pandemic.
“We want this event to be big,” Cortesiano explained.
As of Thursday, Northwell had raised more than $12,000 for the cause, and Salvatore’s had raised $3,325.
To contribute to Northwell’s fundraiser, visit https://bit.ly/2JVcJ4k, and to contribute to Salvatore’s, visit https://bit.ly/34tG4fJ.