Remarkable Women Contest finalist creates Pantry Box Project to feed front-line health care workers

Remarkable Women

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In the midst of a pandemic, where the strength of even the strongest among us has been tested, some may wonder: Who’s going to help the heroes? That would be the goal of this week’s Remarkable Women Finalist.

The life motto of Pam Blais is simple: “one person can make a difference.”

She’s doing just that with a selfless commitment to supporting first responders.

Patti Wainger says watching Blais in action over the last year showcasing an incredible dedication to giving back and lifting spirits, pushed her to nominate Blais for our contest. 

“Recently, I got a wonderful phone call from my three teenage granddaughters and they said they were supporting an endeavor called the ‘Pantry Box Project,'” said Wainger. “They were making lasagna, cookies, brownies, decorating boxes and bananas with funny sayings for front-line health care providers.”

Shortly after one of our local hospitals where Blais, who is a nurse, used to work admitted their first COVID-19 patient in March of 2020, she says she began to hear from her former coworkers, some crying, confessing their fears and concerns all while they were bravely providing care. She wondered what she could do and initially came up with an idea to supply personal protective equipment.

“It lit up these people,” said Blais. “They were so happy just to think that somebody thought of them that day. Over time, we just started adding more hospitals and more people were calling me and I’m not the type of person that can say no.”

Word spread fast. Even CVS reached out with 300 masks for her to take to those on the front lines. Headbands and hats followed but she still wanted to do more.

“I came up with the idea of the Pantry Box which essentially is a box that we fill up with sweet and savory snacks for the frontline providers individually wrapped,” said Blais. “Reaction’s been amazing. People who know me when we first started off really small, we were donating some doughnuts and bagels but nothing substantial; can’t believe that this is still going.”

And it’s grown tremendously because she’s also providing something priceless in these unprecedented times, a pressure release. Every day before work, after work, and on the weekends too she delivers meals to feed the front line with her Pantry Box Project. To date, she has worked with 36 local restaurants and has delivered over 10,000 meals to area workers at nine hospitals. Now Mercy Chefs has even joined in.

“It’s created this cohesiveness,” said Blais. “It’s just not Chesapeake Regional over here and Portsmouth Naval, but really we’re one community. We’re going to get through this together. Together we’re going to crush COVID and we’re going to take care of each other in the process.”

“… You can see why I am overwhelmed with Pam,” said Wainger. “She is selfless. She is compassionate. She is someone who would give her heart to anyone in need.”

The funny thing is, Blais says she’s not doing anything anyone else couldn’t do. In fact, she hopes more people will do the same in their own way.

Blais is a mother and wife. She’s a nurse who’s worked in pediatric intensive care, hospice care, volunteer rescue and the emergency room. Simply put, she is one remarkable woman.

She and her Co-CEO have applied for foundation status now under the name “CARE4FRONTLINE.” The mission is to take a holistic approach to caring for health heroes and they’re putting together a task force of people who can look at the big picture to address their needs.

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