Nurses are suffering in large numbers as a result of their continued dedication, selflessness and heroism during the pandemic and in the two years since. They need to know that people still care and are deeply grateful for their service and sacrifice, especially during 2020 and 2021. They put their lives on the line fighting Covid while trying to keep others alive, safe and healthy. It is only fitting to find a special way to honor, support and help these heroic professionals as they begin to deal with the after effects of the pandemic.
At the height of the pandemic, a time full of social, political and emotional unrest, I created a collaborative art project from afar with 18 other artists from across the country representing 9 states and both coasts. We were each looking for a way to channel our own emotions, heal ourselves and in turn do something for a greater good. The brave and selfless healthcare professionals were my catalyst for creating this project. They made me want to be a better person and to find a way to use my own gifts to help others.
The Together While Apart Art Project was completed in 2021. It is a now permanently installed in its forever home at The University of Virginia Medical Center. Traveling over 3,000 miles on temporary exhibits to various medical facilities, The Together While Apart Art Project has been spreading a message of Hope, Healing and Gratitude in celebration of our national healthcare professionals.
Having a daughter who is a nurse, a son who is in PA School and two nieces who are also nurses, I am more acutely aware of how stressful healthcare jobs have become. Many healthcare professionals are struggling right now; sadly, some are suffering in silence. There are many groups of amazing professionals such as teachers, frontline workers, working mothers and more who have also become ordinary heroes since 2020, who are also stretched too thin. I want to thank them all. However, because The Together While Apart Art Project has been dedicated to healthcare professionals and is displayed in a medical facility, I am using it as a platform to honor and support nurses.
In partnership with The American Nurses Association, I have created a fundraising campaign to thank nurses using The Together While Apart Art Project as a "mascot" and a campaign platform. The mission is to raise money as well as bring attention to what nurses have been experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Many nurses do not receive the wellness resources they desperately need to process what they have been through since 2020. As a result, The ANA has developed a Wellness Initiative Program to provide mental health resources and wellness services to any and all nurses across the country free of charge. But this Program needs all the financial help it can get in order to continue helping a growing number of nurses.
The Together While Apart Project's Thank You To Our Nurses Campaign has been created to honor, support and thank nurses across the country.
The goal of this campaign is to raise $20, 200, an amount chosen because it reflects the numbers 2020, the year nurses truly became heroes. The target ask amount is $20.20 which will enable one nurse to have access to a therapeutic call and other free resources that will boost and sustain their mental well-being. This phone call alone might change a nurse’s life and even save it. So far this campaign has raised over $15,500. This has provided free wellness calls to over 940 Nurses across the country. I regret that it has taken a worldwide crisis for us to recognize these unsung heroes.
Here is the Campaign Link.
About The Together While Apart Artwork
The artwork was created from repurposed cardboard, an example that even the most ordinary items have significant value. The only abundant art supplies I had to offer each participant during the lockdown phase of the pandemic were cardboard pieces from recycled shipping boxes that I had accumulated. Each of the other 18 artists received several 6” x 6” squares of cut cardboard to decorate any way they desired. I imagined a large quilt-like composition that would reflect each artist’s personality by allowing them to design their own piece(s). In 2021, I brought them all together in a cohesive and unique composition that reflects what was in each artist’s heart during 2020.
Because The Together While Apart Art Project was conceived during the height of the pandemic, it has been dedicated to our national healthcare professionals. This beautiful artwork has the power to be more than just something amazing and inspirational to look at. It has the capability to educate and create awareness about burn out, PTSD, low morale, grief, depression and financial stress healthcare professionals face as a result of the pandemic.
At each exhibition location, this artwork has renewed faith, optimism, strength and humanity in all who have viewed it. It is a visual reminder of Hope, Healing Goodness and Resilience. It is also proof that Kindness and Generosity, mixed with a tiny spark of a creative idea and some old cardboard boxes can have a far-reaching impact on others.
The Together While Apart Project is on Instagram@TogetherWhileApartArtProject