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Beer Store employees step up to provide lunch for local nurses

'Today was the best day ever,' said long-time Bayshore nurse who was one of the recipients of free lunch thanks to generosity of Beer Store employees

Staff at the Old Muskoka Road Beer Store stepped up to foot the lunch bill for nurses braving the COVID-19 pandemic in Orillia on Tuesday.

Melissa Knapp, a retail cashier at The Beer Store, organized the in-house fundraiser for the travelling nurses of Bayshore Home Health to recognize their efforts during Nurses Week.

“Non-essential workers have the choice to stay home, but these nurses don’t,” Knapp said.

“I thought it was certainly needed to let them know that they are appreciated for going in every day and providing amazing care to their clients.”

It was especially important for Beer Store staff to recognize front-line workers whose efforts might have been falling under the radar, says Knapp.

“I know the hospital was getting Tim Hortons, pizza and other donations, so I think this team of travelling nurses was being left behind, so to speak, and we wanted to recognize their efforts.”

The Beer Store staff also chose a local supplier in Eclectic Café for the appreciation lunch as a way to help one of the local businesses who may be facing financial hardships due to the pandemic.

“We wanted to put money back into a local business and essentially hit two things at once: provide the nurses with lunch and put money back into a local business in our community,” Knapp said.

Marlene Borrelli, who has worked as a registered nurse with Bayshore Home Health for the past 19 years, says the heart-felt gesture from Beer Store staff created one of the most memorable and uplifting workdays of her career.

“We don’t usually see each other on a normal day, so today was the best day ever. We got an appreciation lunch and we got to meet up at the café and see our co-workers.”

Borrelli and her Bayshore colleagues were shocked when they were approached with the kind offer from Beer Store staff.

“In this time where money is so tight for people, the staff got together and pooled their resources to help us,. It’s really nice,” Borrelli said. “It’s a real nice show of appreciation for the work that we do.”

Many new challenges have been created for the community nurses who travel from home to home to visit elderly patients who have recently been discharged from the hospital and need continued support.

“Now that they aren’t keeping people in hospitals for as long as they normally would, we have a lot more people to take care of in their homes and it’s a more serious situation,” Borrelli explained.

Before entering patients' homes, the Bayshore nurses are equipped with personal protection wear and screen patients to make sure they are not symptomatic of COVID-19. The staff also teaches patients how to protect themselves and keep healthy during the pandemic.

The uncertainty and high risk of being a nurse - especially during a pandemic - can take a mental toll on staff members.

“We all have spouses who are not working and kids at home, so there is the fear that we will get the virus at someone’s home and then bring it back home and to our families,” Borrelli explained.

It is why, amid such fear, the appreciation lunch was so meaningful, she said.


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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