***Click Here for Photos of Nominees***
HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today recognized the first round of outstanding nominations to her recently-launched “VA-07 Heroes” program, an initiative to highlight Seventh District volunteers, businesses, nonprofits, and organizations that have stepped up to help their neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first group of honorees includes the lead organizer of a volunteer effort to supply masks to local health workers, food services workers who have fed thousands of local children and families, and a volunteer who has spearheaded transportation, meal delivery, and emotional support for seniors who might be isolated during the pandemic.
“Central Virginia has experienced hardship and tragedy during this ongoing public health crisis, but we have also seen neighbors come together in extraordinary ways to serve their communities. I was deeply inspired by the nominations we’ve received so far. Through everything from homemade masks to canned food drives, Central Virginians are responding to a grave, complex challenge with selflessness, compassion, and grit,” said Spanberger. “I’m honored to recognize the exceptional efforts of our first round of honorees. I thank them for their service to our district, and I applaud the work of everyone who is going above and beyond to protect people at risk, meet practical needs, and provide support and friendship during a difficult time. I look forward to recognizing more of our nominees in the weeks to come.”
We are grateful to those who took the time to honor others in our community, and this week’s honorees are:
Julie Kratzer, a resident of Midlothian, Chesterfield County: After observing the situation worsening in Italy, Kratzer saw the importance of getting a jump on preparation before the outbreak began in Central Virginia. Beginning in late March, she organized volunteers through her Facebook group “RVA masks 4 health” to take requests, sew masks, share and donate materials, and deliver finished masks. Now, about two months later, the group has more than 4,000 members and has provided over 22,000 masks to health workers, first responders, nursing home and long term care facilities, shelters, correctional facilities, food banks, and public transit workers in the Central Virginia area. Kratzer’s leadership was instrumental in getting the group up and running smoothly, and they are now able to effectively meet a critical public health need as requests continue to pour in.
Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) Food & Nutrition Services team: Through tremendous effort and at risk to their own health, the workers of the CCPS Food & Nutrition Services team have prepared and delivered more than 11,000 meals daily for school-age children who normally depend on school for their nutritional needs. They also prepared weekend boxes to help assist local families who are struggling with hunger and food insecurity during this crisis. The Food & Nutrition Services team has gone above and beyond to ensure that no Chesterfield children go hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic, even when it meant putting on a mask and leaving their own homes to deliver meals.
Maria Martin, the owner of Juan More Taco food truck and restaurant: Since the COVID-19 crisis broke out, Martin has used her business and network of customers in Central Virginia to provide free meals to seniors in Central Virginia who are social distancing at home. In addition to feeding dozens of elderly members of her community and neighboring counties daily, Martin has delivered meals to the frontline health workers fighting COVID-19 in area hospitals and emergency rooms. Through her own unwavering commitment and her rapid organization of volunteers and donations, Martin has ensured that many of our most vulnerable neighbors do not go hungry.
Amir and Sanila Saeed, residents of Chesterfield County: Working with the non-profit Muslim Community Center, the Saeeds started organizing a food drive for local families as soon as Central Virginians began to lose jobs and income to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Beginning with their own money and a few donations from friends, they began delivering dried goods each week to families in need. Their effort has gone from about 100 beneficiaries each week to more than 350, and the Saeeds’ selfless commitment continues to uplift their community.
Jayne Lloyd, a resident of Powhatan County: Lloyd works for the Powhatan County Department of Social Services and prior to the pandemic, she had just begun serving as the coordinator of their new Ride Assist Services program. This initiative provides transportation for seniors who need help getting to important appointments. When COVID-19 broke out in Powhatan, Lloyd did not miss a step. She quickly and efficiently adapted the new program to use its resources to deliver food to local seniors. Alongside a dedicated team of volunteers, Lloyd has even created a “Grandpals” program, for children at home to write letters, draw cards, and send greetings to local seniors along with the meal deliveries. Lloyd’s resourcefulness has brightened a difficult time for many of her neighbors.
Central Virginians can nominate a VA-07 Hero by completing this form. Nominations can include small businesses, non-profits, and any individuals who live, work, or volunteer in Virginia’s 7th District.