It was just last year when Satch² (Satch Squared), located at 405 SW Fourth Ave., opened its doors. Opening in the middle of a pandemic, owner Mark Rodriguez had no expectations of how the business would do, but he’s been blown away by the amount of support his new pizza shop has received since.
In an effort to show their appreciation for the same community who welcomed them so graciously, Satch² has decided to give back to healthcare workers by donating pizzas to different Gainesville hospital departments.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, there was a large effort by the public to donate to healthcare workers enduring much of the stress from such a large medical crisis. But “as time went on, it kind of dropped off,” Rodriguez said, especially when vaccines rolled around.
However, despite vaccine distributions signaling a possible return to normalcy, the Delta variant has caused a massive reemergence of COVID-19 cases, especially in Florida. This new wave has, once again, caused healthcare workers to become “overwhelmed,” Rodriguez said.
Satch² decided they wanted to do something for them.
Liz Hamilton, co-owner of Satch² and Rodriguez’s wife, knows the stress of being a healthcare worker during these times. As a former nurse who worked from the very beginning of the pandemic up until fall of last year, she feels their struggles on a personal level.
“The hardest part for me and many people was working and having to worry… about bringing home an illness that could potentially infect your loved ones,” Hamilton said.
Along with the large number of COVID patients in the Hospital, Hamilton also said these patients “require so much extra resource” as opposed to others.
“It’s exhausting,” she said,“A covid patient is like five patients.”
With the new surge in cases, Hamilton felt that these healthcare professionals were forgotten as COVID-19 had turned into “old news.”
“It's not malicious. It’s not that people don’t care. It’s just that, at this point, it’s just routine,” she said.
Hamilton said these pizza donations were to remind the workers that the community hadn’t forgotten about them nor their work during these difficult times.
Using the connections from her time at UF Health Shands Emergency Centers, Hamilton planned the first two donations to the Springfield location and the Kanapaha one. “It would be easier if I had friends on all the floors,” Hamilton said, “it’s kind of hard to just donate food.”
Now, as Hamilton and Rodriguez don’t personally know any staff from other departments, they must go through a donations coordinator for all future endeavors, which can make the process a bit more complicated. Hamilton now uses the UF Shands page to organize the donations. The Shands program is open for anyone to donate.
“We think ‘well, it’s a small thing for us to do' and hopefully it just brings awareness to that part of the population that is struggling and working so hard,” Hamilton said.
While she wishes they could do more, their donations have inspired others to help out as well.
After seeing Satch²'s posts on social media, a local bakery, Noah's Sweet Treats, reached out. The two businesses agreed to split the cost of a donation to the UF Health Shands Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Rodriguez said similar donations have followed since, including one to the North Florida Regional Medical Center Emergency Room.
Hamilton said the donations taught her that “kindness can be infectious.”
“Little things go a long way,” she said.
Similarly, Rodriguez feels amazed by how this act of kindness has “trickled down” and motivated others to help out as well.
“It kind of lifts people’s spirits,” Rodriguez said. “The medical staff really appreciates it and it kind of brightens their day a little bit.”
While they are currently focusing on donating to healthcare workers, they have plans to expand their operation. Hamilton said Satch² is looking to donate meals to other workers that would benefit from a free meal.
As Satch² continues in their contributions, Rodriguez is encouraging others to do the same.
“The least we can do is to give back to our community and try to make it a better place.”
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Luigi is a third-year media production, management, and technology major at UF and is currently one of the multimedia editors for the Alligator. Prior to his editor position, Luigi was a staff writer under the Avenue as well as the podcast producer for Rowdy Magazine. In his free time, he likes to read up and investigate the most obscure fun facts that would interest no one else.