(Rick Tiessen of Stittsville displays the sign he created and is selling to support and thank the frontline healthcare workers in the Ottawa area. Photos: Stittsville Central)
As you travel Stittsville streets, one can’t help but notice red and white signs popping up here and there, including a complete street. Who or what is behind these signs? Rick Tiessen, a Stittsville resident recently retired, was inspired by the work and challenges that face frontline healthcare workers each day when they walk through the front doors of their work places during this time of COVID-19. He wanted to show his family’s appreciation for this exceptional group.
As Rick pondered the situations each worker faced, he had questions and heartfelt concerns about the livelihoods of the workers – “how do they handle their day when their day is over; do they see their families and children; and, how will this pandemic affect their mental health in the future?” How could he help?
In May, Rick sat down and through various iterations, designed his Thank You Frontline Healthcare Workers sign. Through the sale of the signs, funds will be used to support the healthcare heroes and hospitals by creating Wellness Areas for use by the staff to have their lunch or take a quiet break. Hospitals do not budget to create these type of areas — Rick felt this would be a good place to start. The materials required to create these areas, benches and other comforts, would be purchased through the sale of signs. Rick is currently working with a local hospital to have benches installed in a quiet area on the hospital grounds with the $1,820 he has raised to date. He not only supports the creation of the Wellness Centres, but will be investing in PPE products. More importantly he is establishing an emergency fund to pay for counselling or anything else that is deemed urgent for the healthcare workers.
Rick’s initiative to support healthcare workers and local hospitals found him using some retirement funds to get the signs printed locally and initially he went door-to-door to sell them for $25.00 each. He would like to see the signs in great numbers around hospital sites and on streets where healthcare workers live so they can see the appreciation they deserve. He also would not mind getting some volunteers to help him out with the sale of the signs. Many residents on his street wanted to show their support for this meaningful project and purchased a sign. It is heartwarming to see the signs lining Mika Street as you drive through the neighbourhood.
(Thank You signs designed by Rick Tiessen line Mika Street in Stittsville supporting frontline healthcare workers.)
The Stittsville Home Hardware wanted to support the initiative and are now selling Rick’s signs at their 6001 Hazeldean Road location. This week, he dropped off a supply of signs at the store and 25 were sold the day they were delivered. He has sold 182 to date and looks forward to selling many more. He has a vision and, ideally, “would like to see the initiative go across Ontario or even nationwide to have further funds available to support all of Canada’s healthcare workers.”
Although not a registered charity, Rick has outlined in detail his intentions on his website with the break-down of the costs involved. He wants to assure the public that he is being transparent during this fundraising effort. Albeit, Rick does find it difficult to make the funds available to hospitals as they have Foundations set-up for which ‘donations’ are received. He will persevere in his efforts to ensure that hospitals do not consider the funds a donation with nothing expected from them, but a way for Canadians to show appreciation to the healthcare workers with the heartfelt creation of Wellness Areas.
Rick would like to establish a representative position for the region as a whole to oversee and assist in identifying priorities on a regional basis, with input from a hospital representative from each health region who could prioritize needs.
Support Rick with creating Wellness Areas for healthcare workers — signs can be purchased through his website www.frontlinehw.ca and clicking on Contact Us or at the Stittsville Home Hardware.
Every $25.00 sign purchased ensures this worthwhile initiative will have a meaningful impact on the lives of healthcare workers that comes from the hearts of Stittsville residents.
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