When COVID-19 struck, Impact 100 Jersey Coast member Linda Lautenberg knew she HAD to do something to help out in her community. But what?
At the first virtual meeting of her business school alumni group, she happened to learn about the newly-formed Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG). The group’s mission is simple: feed the front line medical workers and equally important — keep the local restaurants in business. Two Morris county NJ women started the organization, which has since expanded to more than 100 nationwide chapters.
Immediately, Lautenberg knew it was a perfect fit and started recruiting helpers and soliciting donations from the community, thus forming the Holmdel-Middletown chapter.
“When I heard about FLAG, I thought, ‘I can do this!’,” she said. “It really resonated with me.”
Clearly, it resonated in the community too. Between the end of March and Memorial day weekend, the group raised $54,321 and delivered 4,650 meals from 20 local restaurants to staff at Bayshore and Riverview hospitals, area nursing homes as well as police, fire, and first aid personnel in Holmdel and Middletown, even doctor’s offices with testing facilities. Not only this but the group dropped off grab and go snack carts to front line workers with purchased and donated items as well as 1,000 hand-sewn masks! Topping it off were hundreds of colorful hand-made thank you cards created by local school children and delivered to front line workers.
As Lautenberg describes it, the experience “gave everyone an outlet.” FLAG documented its drop-offs via social media, allowing the community to see exactly where their donations were going and to keep up the momentum. In addition, their efforts raised the profile of the shuttered restaurants, “reminding people that those restaurants are still there, doing take out!”
A member of Impact 100 JC for the last four years, Lautenberg currently chairs the Children and Families Focus Area Committee. She credits a team of four other women, including Impact 100 JC member Doreen DeMarco, with FLAG’s success.