EscapeMaker.com, a guide to local farm, food, wine and craft beverage getaways within a day’s drive or train ride from New York City for the last 20 years, is partnering with local Northeast inns and bed & breakfasts to give away free local vacations to healthcare workers and first responders amid the pandemic.
The first iteration of this multi-part giveaway included a grand prize of a two-night weekend getaway to Rushmore Estate, a mansion with unassuming beauty and timeless elegance set among lushly landscaped grounds just 45 minutes from New York City in the Hudson Valley. The winner was announced on June 15th — with a special twist. Upon receiving numerous nominations describing the selfless, dedicated, incredible work that so many healthcare workers and first responders were doing throughout the pandemic, the owners of Rushmore Estate declared SIX winners: one grand prize and five additional finalists. The finalists each received a one-night stay at the Rushmore Estate and the grand prize winner received an additional gift certificate to Fulton Stall Market on top of the free weekend. The stories were so moving that we wanted to share them with the rest of our EscapeMaker family. Check them out below. THANK YOU to all of the heroes fighting this health crisis on our behalves, here’s to some much deserved R&R when all of this is behind us.
THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Natalie Campisi (left) is a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN) at a hospital in northern New Jersey. Natalie has been fighting Covid-19 on the front lines day and night, carrying a selfless smile beneath her protective mask. Professionally and personally she has experienced firsthand the pain and loss that has been presented by this health crisis, yet she has shown up with superhuman strength to keep on moving in the midst of adversity. When Natalie is not treating critical Covid-19 patients, she is studying to become an Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, with goals of working in palliative care, providing her patients and their families with relief from symptoms and stress while battling serious illnesses. Natalie’s nominator shared that no one is more of a healthcare hero deserving of a weekend getaway. THANK YOU, NATALIE! ⠀
Nominated by: Miles Young
FINALIST Todd King is an ICU nurse at Jacobi Medical Center, a city hospital in the Bronx. A former marine and wildfire fighter, he was only a year and a few months into this job when Covid-19 hit NYC. Todd has proven for months his commitment and dedication to helping others. Without enough updated equipment and facilities available, Todd made his own N-95 mask last a week due to low supplies. And on his days off, he has been making food for the staff and bringing it to the hospital. His nominator described him as one of the hardest working and most giving people they know. THANK YOU, TODD!
Nominated by: Taryn Rejholec
FINALIST Ashley Sells is an ER nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC. During the pandemic, in order to increase her patients’ comfort level, sleep and recovery, she started a GoFundMe page with hopes to raise money to buy and donate plush pillows for patients during their stay. In just two weeks, she raised $5,000 and was able to donate more than 1,200 pillows to her patients. “Pick-Me-Up-Pillow” was inspired by Ashley’s coworker’s own experience battling Covid-19 while using hospital-grade pillows, which can be small and flat. Ashley brought her coworker two pillows from her own bed, knowing that sleep is essential for healing, and upon their recovery, Ashley donated the pillows to some of her other patients. Seeing what a difference a comfortable pillow made, Ashley decided to start this movement to provide more patients with quality pillows. THANK YOU, ASHLEY! ⠀
Nominated by: Alyson Darrow⠀
FINALIST Lauren Scheets is an ER nurse who works the night shift at Newark University Hospital, NJ. Coming from a family of nurses, the urge to help others is in her blood and she has worked long days and late nights, putting patients’ needs ahead of her own as she selflessly and tirelessly fights Covid-19, often in very tough conditions. Lauren loves to travel, she loves nature, and she loves dogs! When she is not working in the ER to save lives, she volunteers at her local animal shelter. THANK YOU, LAUREN! ⠀
Nominator: Emily Rowland-Kain⠀
FINALIST Jennifer Cadiz has been a Registered Nurse for 8+ years. She has worked long hours in Upstate New York and at Mount Sinai Queens Hospital. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Jennifer’s facility was at the epicenter of the chaos. She worked tirelessly taking care of patients, even when they were short-staffed and running low on personal protective equipment. She experienced loss and pain from this health crisis just as so many others have, yet she put her own plans and life on hold and kept working hard to help others. She focused on boosting morale in her unit, constantly organizing food donations through Meals4Heroes and Feed the Frontlines. Her nominator described her as having the biggest heart, so deserving of a vacation when this is all over. THANK YOU, JENNIFER!
Nominator: Jonathon Le
FINALIST Alisa Jaganja is a Registered Nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She was described as incredibly selfless, caring and dedicated to her patients. She started a beautiful movement at her hospital during the health crisis, reaching out to the families of patients offering to visit hospital rooms before or after her shifts. Since visitors have been restricted, she offered a hand to hold and a friendly face as well as assistance with phone calls and video chatting in order to connect friends and family to their loved ones inside the hospital. She felt strongly that nobody should ever feel alone when they are sick or hospitalized – a true hero. THANK YOU, ALISA!
Nominator: Leah Hughey