One New York man has taken it upon himself to boost healthcare workers’ spirits — and their immune systems.
Matthew Fermin is the owner of Santiago’s Beer Garden, a popular spot for Dominican comfort food in East Harlem. As the statewide shutdown went into effect in March, he was among the millions of New Yorkers alarmed by emerging reports across the city: “Fridges outside of hospitals, tents outside of hospitals,” he told In The Know. “I saw these nurses crying. I was like, these are the people we should be helping.”
Although his restaurant was still bustling with takeout orders, Fermin opted to close up shop to protect his own employees, many of whom are older in age. In turn, he found himself increasingly concerned about the health of people on the front lines.
“I called Louis, he’s my produce guy. I’m like, ‘Yo, give me some oranges,'” Fermin said. “Vitamin C, you learn this when you’re a kid — you get a boost of energy, it’s good for your immune system, it’s good for your health, high in fiber. I said to myself, ‘hey, the people who really need oranges are people who work in the hospital.'”
“So, I ended up getting 1200 oranges that day,” he said.
A post shared by Santiago’s Beer Garden (@santiagosbeergarden) on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:13pm PDT
A simple post on Instagram quickly caught wind: “People that I don’t even know reached out,” he explained, recalling a flood of messages from people who directed him to particular hospitals, where they or their family members could accept the free boxes of fruit.
Fermin drove up and down the city with the oranges in tow, ultimately making his final stop at North Central Bronx, where he was born.
“They’re the ones that are there for you,” he said of hospital staffers, calling them “selfless.” “They take care of you. They don’t even know you.”
Watch Fermin’s story in the video above.
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