Beam of light: The Gift Card Project in Madison

Yankee Institute is proud to present “Beam of Light” — A dedicated place to lift spirits by illuminating the many acts of quiet heroism, generosity, individual initiative and kindness that are happening every day across Connecticut during the coronavirus crisis.  

To share your “Beam of Light” story, please email Jordanne at

Amy Stefanowski, from Madison, wanted a way to support local business through these challenging times so she went online buying gift cards.  She then, turned to Facebook Live, and encouraged her friends to do the same.  This idea quickly snowballed into The Gift Card Project  

The Gift Card Project is run by 4 women in Madison and Guilford.  As many local businesses switch to online or delivery-only, they want to show them support during this tough time by purchasing gift cards. The gift cards may be just the boost they need to stay afloat through this tough stretch. 

As well as Small Businesses, many in the community are also facing layoffs and financial insecurity. The gift cards can be just the lift they need to aid their family. 

In addition, there are countless individuals working extremely hard to combat this epidemic, both Medical Care and Bio-Med workers. The gift cards may be just the thank you they need to keep up their efforts to serve the rest of us so bravely. 

Visit for information on how to donate. 

Beam of light: Chinese American families and Chinese American Heritage Association make over 1000 PPE face shields for First Responders

Woodbridge residents William Wang, an undergraduate student majoring in biomedical computation, and his father Frank Wang have designed a face shield for medical workers and organized volunteers from the local Chinese American community to create. Despite severe shortage of materials and critical delays in shipment, a concerted effort by the community enabled the creation of a design utilizing ingenuous materials to replace those normally needed in face shields. Hairbands and pins from local beauty stores served to secure the shield to the head; anti-fog spray for car windows was pretreated across the shield to prevent misting during usage; the distance of the foam to the edge of the plastic board was meticulously tested to ensure the shield would bend correctly under strain. A myriad of technical challenges regarding the utility and effectiveness of the design were painstakingly addressed through such methods of trial and error. Additionally, the Wangs built their own cutting board in their basement to cut the plastic board and foam board to shape, providing step-by-step drawings and instructions for general assembly and production.

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Beam of light: Matthew Carrier in Enfield

Matthew Carrier of Enfield Connecticut has brightened his community by putting together a “Bright Night for Heroes” display in his neighborhood. Carrier decorated his home with lights accompanied by patriotic music to help lift spirits and honor everyone working hard to combat COVID-19.

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