We are heartened and encouraged to see so many in our community lifting each other up and doing everything they can to support each other! Members of our type 1 diabetes (T1D) community are well familiar with relying on the kindness of others. This month, we spotlight four inspiring stories of T1D Champions who are turning the tables and offering their support to directly impact our local health care partners during the COVID-19 crisis.
E&J Gallo Winery, located in Modesto, has been a long-time supporter of JDRF’s One Party Gala. To help with the shortage of hand sanitizer in many health care facilities and hospitals, E&J Gallo quickly converted a hand bottling line in their spirits plant to produce the much-needed product. So far, they have delivered dozens of cases of the newly created hand sanitizer to the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services to help first responders and others in need.
McKenzie Bronken is a senior at Pitman High School in Turlock and has been living with type 1 diabetes for 11 years. She recently began sewing masks for nurses and hospital workers who do not have any, due to the limited supply. McKenzie is at home keeping up with her schoolwork via distance learning and spends her extra time sewing masks with her grandmother, sister and mom to help those on the front lines. Being high-risk herself, she is passionate about keeping people safe and helping to flatten the curve.
The Sutter PENS Team in Sacramento has a long-standing partnership with the local JDRF Chapter and does much to provide critical, life-changing support to our T1D community. Geneva Foncannon, RD, CDE recently shared the impact the Coronavirus had on their team:
“I am so incredibly proud of our entire Children’s Outpatient department leadership and the PENS team, as we worked swiftly to get all of us working remotely…which was no small endeavor! The hospital wanted to keep all of the families we serve safe, as well as our staff. We are now using Skype to conduct phone appointments remotely. Creating a workflow and transitioning traditional in-person appointments to remote appointments would normally take several months, but our department managed to get it all done in a matter of days to keep us all safe and healthy! We are all experiencing this dramatic change in our lives together and it has been a privilege to work alongside our families and share how we can all stay safe during this pandemic. Our focus is on assuring that families have adequate supplies, know how to access resources as needed, and stay healthy to avoid going to the emergency room right now. We are running these short phone appointments with all three providers (Social Worker, Dietitian, and Nurse) on the line and are flexible to meet the greatest concerns of our families right at that moment. This is a time of great uncertainty, but we are grateful that we can continue to provide support to our families living with type 1 diabetes.”
Madeline Baker is a 17 year-old Junior at Vista del Lago High School in Folsom and has been living with type 1 diabetes for 6 years. Now that Madeline is distance learning from home, she and her brother Jackson reached out to their friends to collect supplies for care packages to be assembled and distributed to healthcare providers. After preparing the packages, Madeline and Jackson dropped off their ‘You Are A Hero’ gifts to the porches of nurses and doctors who live nearby and work in hospitals throughout the Sacramento area. Madeline shares, “I am so grateful for all the support I have received from family and friends over the years with my T1D. I wanted to return the favor and support those who need support the most right now during this pandemic.”
We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to all T1D Champions! We know there are many more of you doing great things in your community supporting family, friends and neighbors in need. If you have a story to share that demonstrates how you are a T1D Champion, please let us know. Visit https://www.jdrf.org/norcal/p/t1d-champions/ and share your story with us!