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Family motivated to donate resources during COVID-19 crisis

June 22, 2020

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Crystal Chau and her daughter Nhi sew masks

Crystal Chau and her daughter Nhi sew masks

Nguyet “Crystal” Chau has a special bond with healthcare workers.

Crystal’s journey with Parkinson’s disease has required several trips in and out of WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital as she navigates an illness that can test her to the max on any given day.

When WellSpan’s health care heroes took the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, the efforts hit home to Crystal and she was inspired to step up. “It became clear very quickly that there were a lot of people in need, and I recognized that I have the resources and the time to give back to the community,” Crystal says. “It’s difficult for me to witness others struggling with illness, caring for loved ones, or to simply do their jobs and not try to be part of the solution.”

Crystal and her husband, Trung, of Brownstown, donated 186 cases of supplies to WellSpan Health including gloves, alcohol, manufactured masks, hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap, and gowns.

These weren’t things the couple had stockpiled in their basement or garage, so Crystal reached out to friends and family via social media to share her plan. When an overwhelmingly generous response came back, it only motivated her to do more as she called on nail salons and manufacturers to inquire about buying items in bulk.

Her 11-year-old daughter, Nhi, and an elderly friend even joined in the effort as they helped her sew face masks at home. As of May 2, Crystal’s outreach led to a donation of 850 handmade masks to WellSpan with her own family making 100.

“This situation is devastating at its core and it has been made all the more difficult by a mere distribution inefficiency, which I knew I could help alleviate,” Crystal explains.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the first time the Chaus encountered a world of uncertainty and hardship around them. The couple emigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam after the war.

“This country and community have given us the opportunity to work hard and provide a safe place to live and raise a family with my husband,” Crystal says. “It’s only right to give back to a community that has given us so much over the years. Additionally, I felt this was a chance to model for my kids the kind of giving they should always seek to offer. I wanted them to see that in unsettling times, you can and should find a way to help.”

Crystal says that donating to WellSpan has had a positive effect on her own health because anxiety and Parkinson’s go hand in hand. While meditation and relaxation have helped her feel much better over the years, seeing the appreciation and gratitude for the donations has made her feel happy. “The smiles I see give me energy and life to continue donating even further,” she says. “It’s actually quite addicting—it’s a happy cycle.”

Learn how you can help during COVID-19