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Amid the Coronavirus: Doing Good, Quietly

Some of the ER staff members who were treated to a "thank you" lunch by a generous retired Chicago businessman.

There is a retired businessman, a friend of mine, who puts his money where his mouth is. He is focused on doing as much good as he can in these troubled times of the coronavirus, with as little fanfare as possible.

In just the last couple of weeks, my friend has provided 50 lunches for the entire emergency room team at Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago, as well as for some 100 workers at a nursing home in the city.

Today in hospitals and nursing homes across the country brave and dedicated men and women risk their lives to help those who have been afflicted with Covid 19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that so far has claimed nearly 65,000 lives.

It is easy to say thank you, to call them heroes, when we see news reports about their work and about how so many of them have become sick themselves. And then, we go on about our business, pretty much forgetting about them until we see them on the news again, or unless we need them ourselves.

But that is not my friend. I'll call him Jim because he insists on remaining anonymous. "I don't want publicity," he said.

Jim is a retired co-owner of a successful business in the Chicago area, and he's done well. "I like to give back," he told me. "I've been charitable my whole life, and this is just an extension of that."

Jim's action of kindness and generosity to help the workers at the hospital and nursing home did something else, however. It helped a local business that was struggling because of the coronavirus shutdown.

Some of the lunches provided by Corey's NYC Bagels

Jim purchased the bagel sandwich lunches from Corey's NYC Bagels, which has two locations in Chicago and is owned by Corey Kaplan, a friend of Jim's who recently was badly hurt in an auto accident that claimed the life of the other driver.

"Corey's a great guy and has a great product," Jim told me. "So by purchasing the lunches from him and then giving them to the doctors, nurses and other staff members at the hospital and nursing home, it was a win-win. That's what I wanted to do."

After Jim gave the Mount Sinai Hospital ER staff their lunches, which he said was a great experience, Kaplan wrote this on his Facebook page:

"He is a selfless human being that not only helped our small business during these uncertain times, but fed over 50 of the Frontline workers the are taking care of everyone that comes in to the emergency room. Bless you (Jim) and Bless the frontline workers."

Why did he choose Mt. Sinai Hospital?

"Dr. Scott Samlan (the ER doc) used to live in my building," Jim said. "He's a great guy and a dedicated doctor, and because he's at Mount Sinai, I wanted to help them."

Dr. Samlan recently had been on the news as healthcare workers struggled to care for their patients amid shortages of the masks and other personal protective equipment needed to keep them safe.

"I deal with gunshots every day and trauma and crazy stuff and this is the only thing that scares me," Dr. Samlan told CBS News, which noted that he and his colleagues have been on the front lines battling the coronavirus pandemic with the limited supplies they have, even being forced to make their own masks to make up for the supply shortages.

Likewise, it was a personal connection that prompted Jim to send Corey's NYC Bagels to the Symphony Nursing Home. That's because a former employee, Linda Falkowski, is a nurses' aide there.

Jim is the survivor of a quadruple heart bypass, which he says, saved his life. So he pays attention to his health.

"I take two-hour walks every day with a friend and one day we walked by the nursing home. I thought, why don't I help them? So I called the PR person and said I wanted to provide lunch for the entire staff, including the cleaning people. It turned out to be 100 people! Well, that was just more business for Corey's."

Wouldn't it be nice if there were more people in this world like my friend, Jim? People who share their blessings, modestly, quietly, effectively with no ulterior motive other than to be helpful?

This world would be a much better place if that were the case.

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