HIV HERO Donates Hundreds of Masks to God’s Love We Deliver

"This is such an amazing organization, and I think they should get more credit than they do."

When nonprofit leader Michael Cavnaugh realized he had access to surgical-grade masks, he figured donating the supplies to volunteers at God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD) was a no-brainer.

Cavnaugh is the founder of HIV Experience Resources Organization (HERO), a volunteer-led HIV/AIDS health resource network he launched in 2009 for those who are newly diagnosed with HIV. As a person living with HIV, Cavnaugh is especially fearful of developing COVID-19 and has applied to receive GLWD’s services himself. The NYC-based organization and its network of volunteers provide thousands of free, freshly cooked, medically tailored meals every day to New Yorkers who are too sick to cook or grocery shop for themselves.

“I can’t leave my apartment,” Cavnaugh tells NewNowNext. “So all of a sudden, I’m in this position where I have to have help from another organization.”

As the pandemic worsened, Cavnaugh got in touch with a friend who has connections in China, where most of the United States’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—think sterile gloves or surgical-grade masks—is manufactured. He was able to obtain 500 medical-grade masks, 300 of which GLWD has already received as a donation from HIV HERO.

“The first thing I thought was to give the masks nurses, but then I thought, ’Wow, God’s Love We Deliver—those people are really on the front lines for our most vulnerable people,'” Cavnaugh remembers. “It’s amazing what they do. So I thought, why not keep them safe and also stop them from spreading disease to these really vulnerable populations?”

Though GLWD has been recognized by the state of New York as an essential business, the coronavirus pandemic has affected its day-to-day operations. According to Emmett Findley, GLWD’s director of communications, the organization has streamlined its menu for recipients amid a growing demand for the program. Typically, GLWD serves about 5,350 New Yorkers each weekday; since the pandemic began, the organization has gained 1,000 new clients.

GLWD’s volunteers are now cooking and home-delivering more than 50,000 meals each week. The organization has also delivered more than 21 days (210,000 meals) worth of shelf-stable food to clients in case its operations are ever stalled.

View this post on Instagram

A message from our President & CEO @godslovekaren: The number of people in New York who need us is growing at an unprecedented rate. As senior centers across the City have shuttered, home health aide hours are stretched to the limit, family members are not able to bring food to loved ones, and neighbors are less able to help out, we have experienced a huge uptick in referrals. More and more people whose care situation has changed have now turned to God's Love because they have no other option. To meet this growing demand, we have adapted a streamlined menu, overseen by our team of Registered Dietitians, to get the maximum production out of our kitchen, while maintaining our strictest attention to the dietary requirements of our compromised population. To keep everyone safe, we have changed many of our protocols from screening volunteers and practicing social distancing, to implementing no contact deliveries and wearing masks in our building and on the road. Our goal is to ensure that everyone connected to God’s Love – staff, volunteers and clients – feels safe and cared for. We could not get through this difficult time without the support of our volunteers and community. We know that New Yorkers look out for each other. Our clients are calling us to tell us how much they appreciate the shelf-stable meal delivery we made this past weekend: "THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH — I COULD CRY! Your delivery is perfect! Wow! You don't know how much I have wanted exactly what was just delivered to my door!" Thank you for your generosity and your ongoing support!

A post shared by God’s Love We Deliver (@godslovenyc) on

“Because we require all staff and volunteers to wear masks when in the building and on the road, these donated masks will help ensure that everyone working at God’s Love is appropriately protected while doing their work,” Findley explains.

As the pandemic stretches on, Cavnaugh says he plans to donate more masks to GLWD as soon as he can find them.

“New York City is the best place in the world,” he adds. “I’m very happy to be a part of this community and helping an organization that has 17,000 volunteers that help make this happen—deliver thousands of meals. They’re all meals that are prepared just for that person. This is such an amazing organization, and I think they should get more credit than they do.”

Findley agrees, and says those hoping to support GLWD can make a donation to the organization’s COVID-19 emergency fund or sign up to volunteer.

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.