Just a few days before Valentine’s Day, about 650 volunteers in the Tysons area and Fairfax County made medical workers at Inova Hospital their valentine.
The nonprofit organization Volunteer Fairfax distributed about 7,000 handmade pink and red cards yesterday (Tuesday) to Inova nurses outside the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute and throughout the Inova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church.
“This many cards, from this many people, shows that the community acknowledges what we’re going through,” nurse Sabeena Jamali said.
Volunteer Fairfax has been delivering handmade Valentine’s Day cards for 10 years now, but this year, volunteers crafted 10,000 cards — more than ever before, according to Volunteer Fairfax Communications Director Lorna Clarke.
3,000 cards are earmarked for children who are in or graduating from the foster care system.
Before the novel coronavirus, the organization would take over a fire station during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend — as an homage to his legacy of service — and people would come to make cards in person, Clarke said. This typically yielded 3,000 to 5,000 cards.
She attributed the huge influx of cards this year to a practical reason — volunteers were able to do this from home — as well as a sentimental one, as appreciation has deepened in the community for healthcare workers and the sacrifices they make.
Inova is one of the largest employers in the region, but it is easy to take it for granted when driving past the campus on the way to work, Volunteer Fairfax CEO Stephen Mutty said.
“We wanted to raise awareness and say thank you,” he said, crediting Tysons for its “demographic of caring, socially engaged people.”
For Inova President Steve Narang, Valentine’s Day is a special holiday because it gives people a chance to reflect on what it means to have a connection to another person. The cards establish and reinforce a connection between a hospital worker and someone in the community.
“You could see it in their eyes, the recognition that ‘I’m still being seen,'” Narang said.
Case manager Ruth Mahat said she is going to put her Valentine up in the break room to cheer her up whenever she rushes in to grab something or has to step away because she feels overwhelmed.
“Seeing the card brings your morale up,” Mahat said. “Someone in the community is thinking about you and appreciates what you do.”
Image via Volunteer Fairfax