OWEGO, NY – A local charitable organization created as a tribute to one of Broome County’s earliest COVID-19 victims is assisting in the celebration of a significant milestone.
Hugs for RAH RAH RAH was founded by Sally Yablonsky and her family in honor of her mother Ruth Harrington of Vestal who was the second person to die from the coronavirus in Broome County.
The organization has raised nearly $13,000 which is used to purchase takeout food from local restaurants to be given to area first responders.
Hugs for RAH RAH RAH is now funding a birthday celebration of sorts in Owego.
Doris Willet, a resident at Riverview Manor Health, is turning 100 Friday and the staff and residents will mark the occasion separately with pizza and cake provided by Hugs for RAH RAH RAH.
“It really has given me some joy to give back to the community. The thank you notes that people send, if we send them a slice of pizza or a spiedie sub, it just makes my heart grow every day that we are doing good for our community. And my Mom would have been real proud of that. She would’ve liked seeing her picture in the paper,” says Yablonsky.
Yablonsky says her mother, whose initials spelled RAH, was still youthful and active at the time of her death.
And she had been taking precautions, self-isolating for over a week before becoming ill.
Yablonsky says Harrington died less than 30 hours after arriving at the hospital.
She can’t believe some people are protesting the stay-at-home restrictions.
“I pray for them that they don’t ever have to have someone in their family or friend go through what my family has been through losing my mother. My mother was 93 years-old, she lived on her own, she still drove. And when I heard of Doris’s upcoming 100th birthday, my Mom was one of those who could have hit 100. She was very active at 93,” says Yablonsky.
Yablonsky is also Director of Operations at the Tioga County Chamber of Commerce.
She’s partnering with Chamber members to help make Willet’s centennial special.
Hugs for RAH RAH RAH is buying 7 sheet pizzas from Mario’s Pizza in Owego for every shift of staff at Riverview Manor.
And Owego bake shop What’s In Store is donating 2 cakes, one shaped as an owl, as Willet loves owls, and a sheet cake for residents and staff to enjoy.
If you’d like to support Hugs for RAH RAH RAH, you can visit their gofundme.
Watch the entire interview with Yablonsky below: