PARK has been a positive influence within the arts community for the past couple of years. They've taken on a new and unexpected role that's turning out to be very rewarding. I had the chance to chat with Kara Chomistek, President of PARK, about their COVID-19-related initiatives in the Calgary area.
PARK stands for Promoting Artists Redefining Kulture. Founded in 2008, PARK was created to support emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and fashion designers in Alberta. It's a community organization that brings the creative industry together, providing mentorship programs and forums. During times of need, we draw on our networks to support charity efforts, which is where our COVID-19 involvement began.
We were in touch with a group of nurses working in a COVID-19 unit who wanted to share their message to a broader audience. A lot of the nurses in these units are facing their own personal challenges. Not only are they dealing with the obvious stresses, related to caring for people with the virus, they are also having a tough time with their own mental and emotional stress. They've expressed that finding time to care for themselves, keeping up with regular meals, getting enough sleep, and exercising well is hard right now. Many are isolating from their family and friends so they don't infect others. In the current conditions, they often don't even have time to pack lunches, let alone take breaks.
Patients on their units are also experiencing emotional stress and limited contact with family and friends is adding to it. Since most patients enter the hospital in an emergency, they usually come in with very few personal belongings. Most do not have phones or devices for video-chats or phone calls. We're hearing stories about units having to share a single device. With 30 patients, that's only five minutes a day of connection that each patient can have with their loved ones - it's heartbreaking.
This is where we saw an opportunity to help. We've become the bridge between the nurses and the community to help collect donations to help fill some of these practical needs. We thought "Let's itemize what could be used and see who, within our network, can help us with donations." We created a website with the most-needed items. So far, we've had over 50 individuals donate items like devices, chargers, and fitness equipment. We've also had generous donations on our GoFundMe page. We've allocated that money toward purchasing meals for nurses working on COVID-19 units, and we're also trying to provide them with pre-packaged meals. This week, we delivered 125 meals, ice cream, and kombucha to the front-line staff on these units.
We have reached a couple of our goals already which has been great! For our healthcare workers, we have reached our goal for donated subscriptions for online fitness, wellness studios, as well as mental support. We are still looking for skincare items, wellness packages, fitness equipment, and food resources such as healthy pre-packed meals, grocery delivery, and surprise deliveries to brighten their day.
For COVID unit patients, we are still looking for more devices and chargers!
To donate to the PARK COVID-19 response, fill out their form here.