A man awaiting a lung transplant holds back tears as he sends a message to a doctor in New York City. A woman self-isolating with her family in the suburbs of Toronto records a video for a doctor in Syracuse, New York. And six children sing their rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” for a nurse in Brooklyn, New York.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential employees to the front lines. In response, people have come up with many creative ways to express their gratitude, such as lighting iconic buildings in bright blue and showering workers with flower petals.
Northeastern graduate Ariella Sharf has helped develop another way to thank those on the front lines: 6FTCloser, a website that collects nominations and delivers personalized thank-you messages to essential workers.
To create a video, all you need is your phone, says Sharf, who manages the site. Anyone can create an account and send a one-minute-or-less thank-you video to a frontline worker who has been nominated to receive one.
Sharf says the personal nature behind each message contributes to a “more uplifting and powerful message.”
“There’s just something about acknowledging someone by their first name, knowing where they are and what they’re doing that makes them feel seen, heard, and supported, even if it is by a complete stranger,” says Sharf, who graduated with a degree in psychology in 2015.
Sharf and the team were inspired by the banging of pots and pans in New York City to celebrate healthcare workers, and decided to give the idea their own test run.
Since the site launched in April, Sharf says, it has sent out more than 1,500 messages in addition to receiving more than 2,000 nominations of workers who can receive a thank-you message.