Healthcare support

Phoenix’s Barrio Café (left) and The Wrigley Mansion (right) are just two of many local restaurants lending their support to area healthcare workers.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the negativity – whether it’s the news, social media, or conversations with friends and family. Sometimes, I find myself falling in that dark rabbit hole or a funk because the light at the end of our country’s divisive tunnel seems so far away. 

 However, before I start sinking too low, I hear or read a story about either an intentional or random act of kindness that completely lifts my spirit. My conclusion? We need more good news. 

 We can all agree that no matter how hard things get, there is right in the world and quoting my favorite quarantine news guy, actor and SGN host John Krasinski, “The good can be found just about everywhere.” 

 Years ago, I asked Silvana Salcido Esparza, James Beard award nominee and owner of Phoenix’s Barrio Café, to be my guest co-host on Arizona Highways Television. She took me on a tour of her neighborhood, Calle Diez y Seis, which is at 16th St. between Roosevelt and Thomas. It wasn’t the ideal place to open a gourmet Mexican restaurant, but Silvana had the vision to clean it up and turn it into a community where artists and businesses would thrive. 

 She told me that her neighborhood is where her heart is, and she has never wavered through good times and bad. When the latest health scare forced restaurants to close their doors, Silvana opened her kitchen to a community that had nowhere else to go. She served up free food to anyone needing a meal, did free meal delivery service to people who couldn’t leave their homes and fed the health care workers at both Arizona’s Heart Hospital and Banner. 

 During this time, she had to make the difficult decision to close her other restaurant, Barrio Café Gran Reserva, permanently. Yet, her mission to do good remained as strong as ever. Other area restaurants also gave back during these tenuous times. The Wrigley Mansion delivered food to the doctors, nurses and staff at Maricopa County Hospital, and Miracle Mile Deli made meals for the Phoenix Fire Department. 

 In addition to generosity, innovation has been a hallmark of this time. When hand sanitizer disappeared off the shelves and was unavailable even to the medical community, one local company saw the need and got creative. O.H.S.O. Brewery and Distillery went from brewing beer to producing hand sanitizer. Banner and the World Health Organization worked with O.H.S.O. to create the formulas, and soon after, they were delivering hundreds of gallons of hand sanitizer to hospitals in Phoenix. 

 For kids, transitioning to online school has been a challenge, especially for those without access to technology. The Arizona Cardinals, Cox Communications, and State Farm donated computers and a year of free internet service to 150 students in the Roosevelt and Phoenix Elementary School Districts. 

 I’ve also witnessed countless individuals giving back in a variety of ways. Some are shopping for their elderly neighbors. Others are handing out free paper towels, toilet paper and much-needed supplies; people are organizing car parades outside of assisted living homes for those sheltered inside who can’t see their loved ones. My 5-year-old neighbor made a thank you card for my husband and other doctors to let them know how much they are appreciated. 

 There’s no denying that this is a very trying time. I’m confident if we look around, we can find joy in the good that’s happening all around us.  

— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.