NORFOLK, VA – Staff from Norfolk’s Department of Human Services have suited up in protective gear to continue home visits to children and families and need. They have worn masks and gloves to work in city offices to help the many residents who applied to receive food or financial assistance because of jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But DHS staff was running out of hand sanitizer. And there was none to be found.
Acting Director Denise Gallop mentioned Norfolk’s need during a conference call with leaders from departments around the state. A few emails later, members of Norfolk’s DHS staff were on their way to Northern Virginia to pick up car loads of hand sanitizer produced and donated by an industrial coatings company.
“Wow! You are absolutely AMAZING!!!,” Gallop wrote to DeAnna Cheatham, the director of Warren County’s Department of Social Services. “Thank you so much for moving so quickly on our behalf. You have demonstrated how we must operate in this season -- sharing resources and following up in ways that will ease each other’s burdens! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Axalta, a company that makes industrial coatings such as car paint, made and then donated the hand sanitizer to its local department from its plant in Warren County.
Cheatham said that like Norfolk, her department had been unable to fulfill its orders from its usual vendors because of the shortages of sanitizers and disinfectants caused by the pandemic.
When Axalta offered to help, she said, she breathed a sigh of relief.
“It’s one thing to say we’re going to do what we can with what we have,” Cheatham said. “But when all of a sudden we are able to get jugs of hand sanitizer… that’s just one less thing to have to worry about.”
Staff in Warren County had enough to share and offered to help Norfolk. Cheatham said Hampton Roads holds “a special place in her heart,” – her career in social work began here, and her in-laws live in Portsmouth.
Norfolk and Warren County sent staff to meet at a Northern Virginia truck stop, where the exchange led to a car stuffed with hand sanitizer – 48 gallons of it -- to head south to Norfolk as well as King William County’s Department of Social Services.
“It just shows the same kind of thought process we are seeing around the state,” Cheatham said. “We can do far more together.”
Norfolk staff paid it forward, sharing its haul of hand sanitizer with colleagues in Accomac County.
“I want everyone to know just how incredibly blessed Norfolk is to be connected to others in this season!” Gallop said. “Again, I say thank you!