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This Fresno Nurse Is On A Mission To Help Frontline Workers And Local Restaurants At The Same Time

Courtesy of Tali Whelan

Tali Whelan is a registered nurse. 

“I have worked the long 12-hour shifts in the past, and so I know how difficult it can be to be on your feet for so long and constantly on the go,” said Whelan. 

She normally works in a dermatology office, but right now, because it’s not busy, she’s on furlough. So she started a one-woman, local chapter of Front Line Appreciation Group, or FLAG.

Whelan collects monetary donations to purchase food from local restaurants and then she passes the food out to healthcare workers across the Valley. She’s delivered to hospitals and clinics from Mendota to Madera. This week, she brought meals to Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno, Clovis Community Hospital, Saint Agnes Medical Center, and United Health Center in Mendota. 

“A lot of these local hospitals, the healthcare staff are not able to go down to the cafeteria because of the COVID restrictions,” said Whelan. She said those workers can either bring lunch from home, or enjoy a delivery from FLAG.

Whelan’s mission supports workers, but also local restaurants, which are struggling to stay afloat. Nick Marziliano of Sam’s Italian Deli and Market said as soon as there was a shelter-in-place order, the business lost a number of catering jobs.

“Pretty much when the phone rang, it was a cancellation,” said Marziliano. “We funded back $12,000 worth of sales in one day.” 

Thanks to FLAG, and other organizations like Feed the Frontlines Fresno, Marziliano says he’s been able to keep his entire staff on the payroll, and be part of a good cause. 

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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