In the middle of a September night, Jennifer Lount-Taylor woke up with an idea.
For 18 years, Jennifer and her husband Ron Taylor have made Nelson their home. They have a deep appreciation for the city, having visited it on a whim and returned with a moving truck a month later.
But lately, the couple are troubled by life in Nelson. They haven’t seen their children and grandchildren, all of whom live in the United States, since the lockdown began in March 2020. In that time, their daughter in Florida has twice been infected by COVID-19.
They were also disturbed by protests in Nelson and across B.C. against the provincial vaccine card on Sept. 1. They felt sympathy for health-care workers frustrated with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients filling up intensive care units.
It didn’t make sense to see how nurses and doctors had gone from being celebrated in the early days of B.C.’s lockdown to being vilified in 2021.
“What happened to the pots and pans?” asks Jennifer. “What happened to the drive-by with cheers out the window? What happened to all the heart emojis on all the windows and every door of homes, of businesses? What happened to all that gratitude?”
She didn’t have an answer until she woke up late one night with an idea for what she describes as “a small gesture” of their own gratitude.
Only, there’s nothing small about what they did.
On Sept. 16, Jennifer and Ron delivered a box to Nelson’s Kootenay Lake Hospital (KLH). Inside were $50 gift cards to various restaurants around the city. The couple purchased 322, one for every person who works at the hospital. Doctors and nurses, yes, but also support staff, administrators, janitors.
The total donation cost them over $16,000. No strings attached. They didn’t even want a receipt to claim a donation on their taxes.
They decided it was important to offer a meal to everyone at the hospital. That ruled out anything cheaper than $50. The couple said the donation also doubled as support for local restaurants that have struggled during the pandemic.
Along with the gift cards, the couple also included a letter expressing their gratitude to “322 special heroes at Kootenay Lake Hospital.”
It was, as Ron says, their “heart on the window.”
The reaction to their donation has been worth the effort.
Jennifer and Ron have since received over 60 letters from hospital employees, some representing entire departments, expressing their surprise and gratitude.
Several hospital employees also reached out to the Nelson Star, with a number submitting anonymous messages of thanks to the couple. Here’s one of them:
“To the wonderful donors who gave all the staff at KLH a gift certificate to the restaurants in Nelson. There was a wonderful buzz around the hospital, especially to those who often don’t get recognized during these times. It is a continual struggle for all staff to deal with COVID, but most staff just continue to forge ahead with no complaints. We are grateful for your kindness.”
Jennifer and Ron say this has meant everything to them. Jennifer stresses the gift cards were secondary to the letter they wrote to staff, and hopes others in the community follow suit.
No one has to spend money, she says. Just remember who has been, and continues to be, taking care of us.
“I just want people in this community to understand it doesn’t have to be the size of the gesture. It is what your words say, what you show in terms of your gratitude.”