Local Catholic’s nonprofit, Good Girl Comeback, raises money to support business owners, emergency room workers in time of desperate need

ROYAL OAK — The emergency rooms are full, and the restaurants are empty.

During a time of social distancing and fighting COVID-19, everyone’s world has been turned upside down, whether by the disease itself or the economic crisis left in its wake.

To address those twin challenges, Chelsea Gheesling and with her business partner, Courtney Taylor, have launched “Help Our Healthcare Heroes,” a campaign to provide overworked doctors, nurses and emergency room staff with meals catered by local restaurants.

Gheesling, a Catholic, is the founder of the Good Girl Comeback, a nonprofit that provides role models for young girls and women, especially through entrepreneurship and giving back to the community. Gheesling and Taylor also founded Bundled, a gifting company that creates gift bundles of Michigan-made products.

Hospital workers at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital in Pontiac show their appreciation for the meals received from local restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We just brainstormed and tried to figure out how we can help these restaurants that are closing in staying open, because right now they have no one to dine in them,” Gheesling told Detroit Catholic. “Working with so many small businesses in my work with Good Girl Comeback, seeing all the good they do, we came up with the idea of setting up a PayPal donation to raise money to place catering orders.”

For every $500 “Help Our Healthcare Heroes” raises, it places another order at a local restaurant. As soon as another $500 is raised, Gheesling calls a local establishment and places the order — brightening the day for the restaurant staff and the time-crunched doctors and nurses.

“We call up local restaurants and say, ‘Here is $500, feed as many people in ER as possible,’” Gheesling said. “Restaurants drop off the catering order at the hospital, and we call the hospital to ask where the best drop off point is, confirming that someone will be waiting on the curb.”

As of March 24, 10 different restaurants had benefited with $500 from the “Help Our Healthcare Heroes” campaign, feeding 10 different hospitals across Metro Detroit. Gheesling said the group had raised $8,000 by that date.

The ER staff at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital enjoys the food from It's a Matter Of Taste.

“This just shows how generous people are, and we’re blown away with the hope people are giving. It’s beautiful to see,” said Gheesling, a parishioner at Our Lady of Refuge in Orchard Lake. “We are all in our homes, but we’re not forgetting about everyone who is working so hard to care for the people who are sick, all while helping small business owners who work their whole lives to build up their business.”

Gheesling has been amazed by the community’s response. After making the first post on Good Girl Comeback’s Facebook page on March 18, the nonprofit was able to place its first order the following day.

“All the restaurants we’ve called have been on board with it all; nobody has felt overwhelmed by the delivery when we reach out,” Gheesling said. “We tell them where the ER doors are, where to go on the curb, the phone numbers to call. When we called the ER reception, (the person who answered) said, ‘Wait, are you serious?’ But we tell the restaurant to just build a carryout order with whatever you have in stock, whatever makes it easy, and we’ll pay them up front.”

Gheesling said the drop-off system ensures the restaurant staff and cooks don’t have to enter the hospital and avoid contamination.

Two Unique Catering dropping off lunch to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak after an order was placed through the “Help Our Healthcare Heroes” initiative.

“Every time I call the hospital, I just make sure they have a heads up,” Gheesling said. “One lady thought it was prank phone call. They started crying, saying how tired and overwhelmed they are, and that this is a blessing. We write a note to go with the delivery of the food, saying how we appreciate them and are filling them with food, prayers and positively.”

Gheesling is thankful for the donors and restaurants who support the mission, which she said will continue as long as necessary.

“This has been a real blessing for me, being able to answer a call to be God’s hands and feet in this situation,” Gheesling said. “I’m Italian, so feeding people and making them feel taken care of is just what I do. It’s beautiful to see what people want to get involved with, to share their support and love. This is God’s love in action, our faith in action.”

Restaurants involved in ‘Help Our Healthcare Heroes’

To donate to “Help Our Healthcare Heroes,” visit www.goodgirlcomeback.com/healthcareheroes. Some of the restaurants involved in the Good Girl Comeback’s initiative include:

  • Kickstand Brewing Company
  • Via Bologna
  • Bologna Via Cucina
  • Princess Mediterranean Grill Commerce
  • Princess Mediterranean Grill
  • Thyme & Honey
  • Hickory BBQ & Grill
  • L.A. Bistro Canton
  • Big Tommy's Parthenon
  • The Lakes Bar and Grille
  • It's a Matter Of Taste
  • One Under Craft Beer & Eats
  • 2 Unique Caterers & Event Planners
  • Andiamo