Frontline workers have become the heroes of the coronavirus crisis. Healthcare workers, police, grocery story employees, and food-delivery staff are making sure we are safe, healthy, and comfortable during a time of great uncertainty. These dedicated and tireless people are receiving plenty of attention from the news media, as well as daily cheers from the public, but if you're feeling like making a more personal expression of gratitude, Nunbelievable highly recommends checking out 6FTCloser.
"Even if we have to be six feet apart, we can still stay close." That's part of the mission statement of this inspiring new platform, which provides a way for people to directly thank individual frontline workers with a personalized video message. You can also nominate a frontline worker who deserves to receive a message of thanks.
"The idea is simple and elegant, with emphasis on simple," says Noah Friedman, who co-founded 6FTCloser this spring. "For those who make the videos and for those who receive them, it hits a different nerve emotionally. When you receive personal recognition that is for you for something specific, it releases oxytocin, a chemical in the brain that's the same one you feel when you fall in love, and it's really powerful."
Messages can be sent and nominations can be made via 6ftcloser.com. The service — which is absolutely free — matches you with a frontline worker (while all personal information is kept private). You can check out a sample of the videos people have sent on 6FTCloser's YouTube page.
Friedman came up with the idea while staying home during the early days of the crisis. "I felt both tremendously grateful for the work that our frontline workers are doing and tremendously compelled to do something to give back," he says, adding that he wanted to address the pandemic's effects on mental health. "I saw people clapping out the window every night at 7 o'clock [to cheer on healthcare workers], and felt both inspired by that, but also slightly unsatisfied. Are individual healthcare workers hearing that I'm clapping for them? How can we make that a little more personal?"
He recruited his friend Sahil Bhaiwala to help build the platform and soon they were testing it within their circle of friends and families. Thanks to word of mouth and social media the idea took off quickly. "It's blown me away," Friedman says. "When we started I thought it would be cool to get my friends and family to send videos to frontline workers and I hoped that maybe one day we'd get to a point where I didn't know the people who were making videos. And by Day 2 I didn't know anybody. It was all new people."
One response from a college friend who is now an ICU nurse in New Jersey really hammered home the importance of 6FTCloser's mission. "I reached out to her a few days after she got a thank you video," Friedman says. "And she said, 'You have no idea how much that meant to me. Nobody understands what we're going through and I have felt slightly unseen and alone, and when I watched the video on my way to a shift and it changed the course of my week.' We could have stopped after that call and I would have said that this was successful."
But they have no plans to stop. Within the first month, 6FTCloser expects to share over 1,000 videos. And while the current pandemic will hopefully be behind us soon, Friedman plans to keep the platform going. "We're tapping into something that's bigger than just saying thank you. People want to be connected over authentic expressions of positivity and love and hope, and the unfortunate truth is that there are always going to be disasters and divides, both physical and ideological, in our world. Which means there are always going to be people who need to be thanked and recognized."