160,104. That's the number of people who have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.
A couple wants to honor every single one of them, so they created a special website to memorialize each life lost.
A local woman tells us it sure is meaningful to her family. Shawn Creswell's dad was 93-year old Richard Steubinger. He will always be known as a loving dad and grandfather. The Navy veteran, who served in World War II, had a goal to make it to 100 years old, but on April 1, COVID-19 claimed his life.
"I was very blessed to have such a wonderful father. He raised me by really teaching so many values and character traits that are important to your whole life, from when you're little, to when you're an adult,” Shawn says. “He really instilled in me growing up, the importance of having a very close relationship with God, and also learning how to take your gifts and serve others. And so I grew up, volunteering at a very young age. Until you're an adult, you don't realize some of the things that you do really do relate to your childhood. Even in college, I was the philanthropy chairman in a sorority, and I later went into education, and at the schools where I've been principal, I'm always looking for activities for our students and families to give back to our community. So I never really made those connections until I was talking about my dad and growing up. Oh my goodness, all of these things he did, affected me as an adult.”
Precious memories and stories about special people like Mr. Steubinger are being shared on the website MourningAmerica.org. It's dedicated to those who lost their battle to COVID-19.
We talked to the co-founders of the site. They are both doctors in Greenville, South Carolina, who wanted to do their part in helping us keep alive those who are no longer with us.
"What we wanted to do was try to create some way of remembering those people as individuals and not have them lost as a number," states Dermot Jevens.
"I think both of us are feeling really helpless, like I think so many Americans right now, watching that number climb and knowing that those are our family members, they're members of our community that are beloved, and they make up this fabric of our society. And we were feeling really helpless, so this was one way that we could help the families and the victims be remembered," says Rebecca Heiss.
Shawn and her family sure are thankful for the website.
"I'm so excited that you brought me to this website, and I know that so many other people would appreciate it as well. We haven't been able to have a visitation or a funeral. The majority of our family members I have still not gotten to see in person, so it feels like we haven't even gotten a chance to share the stories about my dad that you would typically do, so what a wonderful way to be able to share about him to other people," states Shawn.
Like most families, she also couldn't be by her dad's side when he took his last breath from coronavirus, so she relied on loving nurses at the highly infectious disease unit at Houston Methodist Hospital to care for him in his final moments. She was so thankful for them, her school even got involved helping donate gifts that she could deliver to the medical workers to say thank you for their kindness.
The founders of MourningAmerica.com hope that people, like Shawn, can find deep connections and see they are far from alone.
"Any family member can just hit a button and share their story. The goal with this site is not that it's some formal way of describing a family member's life, but a blank slate, on which you can write whatever you want to write about your family member in your own language in your own words. We've had everything on there from a gentleman who passed away in LA, and we got his story that he loved the Rams and was a huge NFL supporter. We've heard about Margo who was a lover of chocolate, and was a bad shift-stick driver. And so those are the things that aren't featured in your typical memorial, but those are the things that people are sharing with us on this site. That's what we wanted,” reflects Dermot.
"We are not looking for donations, the only donation that we're looking for actually is your time. So go on, share it with your friends, scroll through and you know it can be really overwhelming to see. We do have a red dot for every single person that's passed of COVID-19 in America, and just take the time to scroll through and let it sink in that each and every one of those dots is a human, is a person that was loved and cherished and deserves to be celebrated and remembered," says Rebecca.
We can perhaps all learn something, from people like Richard Steubinger, and allow their legacy to live on. There's also a special mural by local artist Joni Zavitsanos for victims of COVID-19 in the Houston area. Mr. Steubinger will also be featured on that.
Click her to learn more about Joni’s local mural memorial.