Story by: Julie Kruer on May 26, 2020
Ellen Werner, a Louisville native living and working in New York City, saw on social media that one of her friends in Charlotte, North Carolina, was collecting donations to purchase meals for health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I donated a little bit of money,” said Ellen. “And then I reached out, wondering how I could help a little more.”
A few weeks later, Ellen and her siblings Anna, Michael and Jack Werner, have raised — with the help of their friends and family — more than $22,500 to provide thousands of meals from Masterson’s Catering to Norton Healthcare employees.
When Ellen reached out to a friend in North Carolina to see what else she could do to help, the friend suggested Ellen do the same type of fundraiser in her own hometown of Louisville. Ellen initially thought it would be hard to organize such an effort herself. But it wasn’t. She recruited her siblings to help, set up an online fundraiser and got connected with Norton Healthcare Foundation through a friend of Anna’s who is a nurse.
After a few Instagram posts by Ellen and her siblings, the donations started rolling in through an online fundraising page they set up and through Venmo.
“We were really just shocked and overwhelmed by the response,” Ellen said.
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They have received more than 200 donations from individuals and families all over the country — New York to California and several states in between. Many of the donors are in places more affected by COVID-19 than Kentucky.
Ellen and her sister Anna, who also had been living and working out of state, but in Los Angeles, California, are now both staying healthy at home in Louisville with their family. While in town, they and their brother, Jack, have helped with the meal deliveries.
“Going and dropping off these meals and thinking about what these health care workers are doing really puts things in perspective,” Ellen said. “The employees have been so thankful.”
According to Anna, there have been several similar fundraisers that have popped up around the country, in addition to the one in North Carolina.
“It’s a trickle-down effect,” Anna said. “You see it and want to take part.”
It’s become a movement, one that they are proud to be a part of, according to Ellen.
“I think it was really special to see how many people don’t live in Louisville, but love Louisville, reach out and donate, even if it was just $10. It really meant a lot,” said Ellen. “I think there’s a lot of negativity and sad news at this time, and this is something that really just made all of us happy and feel lucky to take part.”
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