In a spring season marred by a pandemic and economic uncertainty for many Toms River families, one local resident found inspiration through a natural wonder and channeled it toward thanking those who are putting their own health at risk to help others.
After a rainy day last week gave way to some evening sunshine, Frank Peppi, a union carpenter from Brick, noticed a rainbow in the sky. It gave him an idea on how to thank the employees at Ocean Medical Center and Community Medical Center who are treating victims of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I couldn’t imagine having to go to work everyday and having to care for the sick the way they are,” said Peppi. “Then, one day last week I saw this beautiful rainbow pop up over Brick, and people went crazy on social media.”
The same day, he saw video of local police and other first responders giving a heartfelt salute with their lights and sirens to healthcare workers. The two ideas came together. Peppi put out a call on Facebook asking where he could buy rainbow pinwheels and American flags with the intent on placing them near the hospital to greet workers as they came in for a shift.
“To my surprise they didn’t tell me – they messaged me and wanted to donate,” Peppi said. ” I was blown away. I had over 300 pinwheels and 150 American flags!”
After receiving the pinwheels, he discovered all 300 of them had to be assembled piece-by-piece. And, of course, they had to be displayed near the hospital entrance. He again reached out to his friends on Facebook for a hand.
“Lo and behold, help again!” he said.
The pinwheels now line the walkways outside Ocean Medical Center alongside the American flags, providing the same chance for healthcare workers to smile as many residents had when they saw the rainbow a week earlier.
“I can’t thank the community and my friends for making this all possible,” Peppi told Shorebeat. “And to all the first responders and nurses keep up the good fight – the community is behind you!”
Peppi asked Shorebeat to recognized some of those who helped with the project: Casey Duffy, Rachel Duffy, James Biringer, Gene Lewis, Shannon O’Neill, Melissa Stellmach, Diane Araneo, Shawn Scott, and Carolee Delaney – plus those who offered to help.
“There was many of you and can’t thank you enough,” Peppi said.