NEW YORK - Lifelong best friends Baila Dalfin and Nechama Hecht witnessed firsthand the toll the COVID-19 pandemic was taking on our city—especially on the livelihoods of elderly New Yorkers.
“I work at a nursing home and I saw firsthand how it felt for the residents, the fact that they couldn’t have family and friends visit them,” said Dalfin.
The young women, both Orthodox Jews raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, say giving back is something that’s been ingrained in them. They started an initiative called planTogether and since April they’ve given hundreds of plants to seniors quarantined at home and to seniors at nearly a dozen nursing facilities in Brooklyn and Queens.
“We do see how much it’s appreciated by them, they do feel like people are thinking about them and people care about them so that’s something that inspires us to continue moving forward,’ said Hecht.
One of the nursing facilities that received plants from this initiative sent us a statement which reads in part: “The restrictions on visitors, communal dining and group activities during the pandemic have been extremely difficult for our residents at Bedford Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation… Our residents who have been recipients of planTogether's initiative not only feel that someone is looking after them, but they now have something to look after too.”
We also go to hear from some of the recipients firsthand.
“Thank you very much, it’s something we enjoy watching them grow every day or every couple of days, it’s something to take care of,” said nursing home resident Douglas Wright.
“It gave me something to take care of, something to love,” said another resident, Maxine Wallach-Rossitto.
“They make me feel happy, especially because I take care of them too. I don’t make sure they don’t get dry,” said a third resident, Luz Ramirez.
Dalfin and Hecht raise funds through their Instagram page and have also received some plant donations from local gardening businesses. This duo believes if they can put a smile on just one person’s face, then they’ve accomplished something big.
“Bringing a plant really brightened their room, gave them something to do and it made them feel a little less lonely,” said Dalfin.
To date, the girls have given plants to more than 300 seniors. Their goal is to keep raising funds to keep the initiative going, but they also hope to inspire others to give back to their own communities any way they can.