Amanda Witkowski

Category: Community Pillar
Nominator: Maria Witkowski  

What was their service?

Amanda implemented a series of projects – she made hundreds of masks to donate to healthcare workers and hospitals. The made almost 30 blankets for the cancer patients at Tomorrow’s Children, Then organized a contactless food drive for their pantry. Through a grant from Peace First she then started making and donating masks to individuals on the autism spectrum. She purchased and delivered food to Ronald McDonald House, and made paracord bracelets for Operation Gratitude. After obtaining the vaccine she began volunteering in the vaccine clinic at Clara Maass Medical Center.

What motivated them to serve/volunteer? 

Two days after spring break 2020 university classes moved to online. All internships cancelled. She could no longer shadow at the rheumatology center or at the pediatric center. Her babysitting position had to stop. We moved her home with barely a goodbye to her house and classmates. Graduation, awards ceremonies, the May MCAT all cancelled, and on it went. The physician she hoped to shadow post-graduation sadly died of COVID. The hospital paused their volunteer program, and Amanda was left with disappointment and loose ends. She felt the need to do something to help others and not succumb to  pity.

What did they achieve/how did they make a difference? 

She was aware of the shortage of masks at the onset and a local business was looking for help sewing. I pulled out the old sewing machine, taught her to thread it up, cut fabric and run a stitch. She began making face masks for radiographers at the epicenter of the New Jersey coronavirus cases. After a few awkward starts, she sewed until she made hundreds of masks to donate there and to other health care workers and hospitals. She then bought no-sew tie blankets to make for cancer patients and made dozens for the patients at Tomorrow’s Children. When the hospital picked them up, she offered to do more of whatever was needed. The administrator noted that the food pantry was depleted, so Amanda organized a food drive, using Amazon so people could donate in a contactless way. She applied for and received a grant from Peace First and went on to make and provide masks for individuals on the autism spectrum. She purchased and delivered food to the Ronald McDonald House, made paracord bracelets for Operation Gratitude and more. She was successfully hired as a medical scribe at Clara Maass Medical Center, where she will work until medical school. At the start of this year, Amanda, as an essential worker, received the Moderna vaccine. Her first action was to ask if the hospital she works at needed volunteers. She naturally assumed that volunteers would not be among the first to receive vaccines. Lo and behold, she made a three month commitment and now volunteers one day per week in the vaccine clinic. Every day Amanda found a way to turn lemons into lemonade and put the welfare of others first.