When the COVID-19 pandemic brought Kathleen Kilmer’s event planning business to a standstill, she found herself with extra time on her hands. Meanwhile, her sister, a health care worker, came home every day looking exhausted.
“I just wanted to do something for her,” she said. “I wanted every health care worker who is putting their lives on the line to feel gratitude and to know how much that sacrifice meant.”
Kilmer, of Las Vegas, started Honor and Thank as a platform on her Easy Event Planning website to provide a way to say thank you to health care workers around the country. Since its launch in April, the initiative has expanded to include workers in other fields such as funeral and nursing homes.
Anyone can visit the site and post a text, photo or video message for health care workers. Honor and Thank has also been bolstered by a network of volunteers, many of whom are college students.
Marissa Linzey, a senior at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, started volunteering with Honor and Thank in January.
“It’s not this big, convoluted thing, and it’s something that everybody can understand and get behind no matter their political swing or however they feel about vaccines or schools or anything else like that,” Linzey said. “I feel like everybody can back health care workers in this time. I feel like at some level, everybody knows somebody who’s a nurse or a doctor or something like that.”
Colby Noble, a junior at Towson University in Maryland, also started volunteering this year. Noble said she was struck by how passionate Kilmer and other Honor and Thank leaders were.
“The more meetings I went to, the more I realized how much they actually care,” Noble said. “You know that they care, but how much they really do care. Because both of her sisters are health care workers, so I just see how much it means to her, and seeing how much this means to her I feel like inspires everybody else to really do their best.”
Kilmer plans to keep the initiative going as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues. She noted that she did not put COVID in the name or description of Honor and Thank, wanting to use the platform for a variety of causes. She also said she’s heard back from numerous health care workers who let her know how much the messages of support have meant to them.
Part of the reason Kilmer started the initiative was to provide people with an easy way to give back.
“I think that people aren’t sure how to help,” she said. “And when they find out that there’s a really simple, meaningful way they can do that, it makes them feel good, too. It’s a really simple, free way that they can make a difference in this pandemic, and they can feel like they’ve done something.”