AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thank you. Those two words can make a difference in someone’s day.
They made a difference in Doctor Julie Dodd, MD’s day in the form of a fated gift card on National Doctor’s Day, March 30, 2020.
“A very good friend of mine sent me a gift card, and just said, we care about what you do and we want you to know we’re thinking about you,” Dr. Dodd said. “And it made such a big impact on me. I don’t know why. I think that because in 18 years, you really don’t get thanked in the ER. Nobody really knows or cares what you do, ’cause you’re in and out so fast. But it made a big impression on me.”
Dodd works in the emergency room at Seton Medical Center in Austin caring for COVID-19 patients. She wanted to give back, particularly to co-workers “coming into an environment where they’re exposed to coronavirus” at the hospital’s “COVID areas” daily. Such positions include:
- Clinical assistant
- Respiratory therapists
- Environmental services
- Food services
“All of the people that are coming to work every day knowing they’re risking their health,” Dodd said.
Risking their health while “feeling anxious about what’s to come,” Dodd said. “The big peak of the coronavirus should be coming soon so we thought, the sooner the better… The hospitals aren’t as busy, thankfully, because people are staying home, but a lot of the patients that are showing up are very, very sick.”
Dodd and her family always wanted to give back to her front line co-workers, but her gift card focused the effort. Her daughters Megan, Addie, and Macie each hopped on board without hesitation.
“They were so on it, so excited because they saw how it made me feel,” Dodd said.
Her daughters started passing out a flyer, which spread from their neighborhood to others and branched out from there.
“Before we knew it, within 24 hours, the fund had gotten more money than we ever expected. I mean, it’s already ten times more than we had expected,” Dodd laughed.
The money filtered into their created Venmo account titled Soteria-Austin, named after that Greek goddess of safety and preservation from harm. Anyone can donate.
The donation total currently stands at more than $13,000.
With all of the help from the neighbors and families they know, Dodd’s one gift card is now many. The family started purchasing $50 gift cards from local restaurants, supporting others impacted by the pandemic.
“They have been researching restaurants, getting to know the owners and their need and picking up the gift cards. They have been overwhelmed by the gratitude shown by the restaurants,” Dodd shared in an email.
“One of my friends went to Shady Grove and the owner was just incredibly grateful, and then said, I want to throw in one hundred tacos for your hospital,” Dodd said. “I feel like giving, promotes more giving.”
The fundraiser started as an initiative only for Seton Main healthcare workers employed on Easter Sunday, but with it’s increased growth, the family is now delivering to shifts throughout the entire holiday weekend, starting Friday night into Sunday night.
“Since we will be unable to take the gift cards into the hospital, our plan is to deliver Spring boxes filled with thank you notes and gift cards to the head of each department we are targeting. They will be able to distribute to all of their staff over the next few days as they arrive for their shifts. We hope on Easter Sunday they will email the employees who aren’t working to alert them of the surprise,” Dodd shared in an email.
Dodd’s daughters and their friends also dug into their creativity to make more than 30 thank you letters to go along with the gift cards. You can see some of them in the slideshow below: