How Gail Tenney turned a nuisance into help for UMMC workers on the front line
It didn’t take Gail Tenney long to decide who she wanted to help when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
She works for her family’s businesses, McNickel’s Bottle and Can Redemption and adjoining RJ’s Washroom on Ellicott Street in the City of Batavia.
Given her family’s work at the Redemption Center, and because she knows that for most people “bottles and cans are a nuisance,” an empties drive was the perfect choice for an event to benefit hardworking medical providers at United Memorial Medical Center.
Thus was born "Community Strong with Cans." Tenney visited neighbors on Redfield Parkway, Bogue Avenue and Woodrow Road. They were happy to help!
She collected empties with a $200 redemption value initially, $120 with the next round, and then added $100 from her family. This $420 was used to purchase 55 meals for hospital workers at UMMC.
The meals were from local eatery Commit to Well (inside Eli Fish Brewing Co.) and delivered on April 13; the recipients were more than grateful.
“The ongoing support of our community is such an important piece in our fight against COVID-19," said UMMC President Dan Ireland. "As we all learn how to cope during these extraordinary times and rise to the challenge, our team members are working long hours away from their family—many accomplishing tasks they’ve never done before.
"Our community’s acts of kindness, large or small, keep us going. This outpouring of gratitude reminds us why we’re here, and that the community we care so deeply about, also cares for us. There are not enough words to express our sincere appreciation. We are all so thankful for the heartwarming generosity.”
Now Tenney would like to expand the scope of the project and share the benefits with the people who support their businesses as well, while increasing collection efforts throughout the community.
"Let’s support them, they support us," Tenney said. "…My heart breaks for them" because they are truly the people in need during these difficult times.
Along with the hospital staff, Tenney has selected Care-A-Van Ministries and Community Action of Orleans and Genesee to be recipients in the future.
Paul Ohlson of Care-A-Van said that contributions they receive are distributed according to needs, so it is most helpful to provide them with the funds directly.
Similarly, Lisa Wittmeyer of Community Action is anticipating that any money raised will help in upcoming months when many local residents need to catch up on unpaid rents from the early days of the pandemic.
The Tenney family hopes their efforts will bring a bit of much needed relief to those who need it, without overburdening the people they are asking to contribute. They intend to continue matching funds for money raised.
To donate your empties to "Community Strong with Cans," to arrange a pick up, or to help, please contact Tenney at: [email protected] or call/text (585) 993-2060.
Visit Tenney’s Blog here.
Top photo, courtesy of UMMC.
Inset photo right, courtesy of Gail Tenney.