SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Among COVID-19's casualties are hundreds of health care workers – doctors, nurses, paramedics, the list goes on.
The medical news source Medscape is working to keep track of the many lives lost. As of May 4, at least 173 health workers in the United States have died from the virus. In other countries, over 800.
"The next thing I knew, I was at home most days, working from home, and really feeling in some ways a little bit guilty," said Alyssa Lochbaum, CFO at a San Diego biotech company.
The more time passed, the more Lochbaum felt compelled to change the narrative.
Part of a leadership team, her team came up with the Frontline Hero Fund. The mission is to provide financial assistance and counseling services to the families of workers on the front line who are critically ill with coronavirus or died from it.
"There's a lot of single parents who are LPNs, radiology assistants, this really came out of nowhere for them," said Lochbaum.
But knowing it could take months to create a new 501(c)(3) organization, the team reached out to a San Diego nonprofit with a similar mission.
"Yes! It was hell, yes!" said Lynda Sunshine West, founder of The Giving Angels. "I was in my own little world. And then I started watching the numbers and seeing the numbers on a daily basis. I was watching the numbers go up and I was thinking, wow, this could happen to us right here."
In four weeks, the nonprofit raised over $50,000 from private donors, with 100% of the proceeds going to families in need.
"Our first grant we made was to a radiology assistant in Florida, Marjorie, who contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized with pneumonia, and actually passed it on to two of her children," said Lochbaum.
The Frontline Hero Fund is providing grants from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on financial need.
"The family we helped this week, he was 33 years old and a firefighter, he had worked his whole life to become a firefighter and finally became one," said Lochbaum.
Israel "Izzy" Tolentino died from complications from the coronavirus after battling it for nearly two weeks, leaving behind his wife and two young children. A week later, his father also passed away due to the virus.
The Frontline Hero Fund granted the family $10,000.
"I'm humbled to have known he was not only our personal hero here at home but a hero to so many people," said Tolentino's wife, Maria Vasquez.
You can apply for a grant on behalf of yourself, your colleagues, or family members.
To apply for a Frontline Hero Fund grant, click here.