By Mimi Pollack
In these trying times of global pandemic, many of us are thinking about how to help in our local communities. My inspiration was a small mom-and-pop restaurant near my home called Nonno’s Ristorante Italiano, a La Mesa institution since 1998.
The owner, Gerardo Ortiz, came from Mexico many years ago. He is an immigrant success story. Many smaller restaurants are losing business now, and I wanted to help Nonno’s. Over the years, whenever I ordered pizzas for my English as a Second Language class parties, Ortiz always gave us free, extra food. He had been an ESL student himself a long time ago.
I decided a way I could help both Nonno’s and the larger community would be to buy a large order from his restaurant and deliver the food to either healthcare workers or first responders. After a number of calls to local hospitals, police and fire departments, I was connected with Dr. Franklin Kalmar at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. He loved the idea, and made arrangements for my delivery.
With some of my savings and the help of generous friends, I raised $240 for 20 individual pizzas — individual so that no food was shared amid coronavirus.
As I arrived with the pizzas, I saw a large family in front wearing masks, hugging, and crying loudly. So there was sadness mixed with the pleasure of delivering the pizzas. Dr. Kalmar and Peggy Woods, the medical staff coordinator, met me and picked up the pizzas. They later sent photos showing the smiling, appreciative hospital staff.
I am writing about this experience in order to encourage others to find their own way of giving back amid the coronavirus pandemic. Several friends have contributed money to organizations like Jewish Family Service of San Diego and the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. Others have sewed face masks for an assisted living home and cancer center.
It doesn’t matter whether it is big or small, every bit of help counts and is welcome in this worldwide crisis.
Mimi Pollack is a former English as a Second Language teacher and a freelance writer.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: