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New nonprofit, Orange Ya Glad?, highlights positive endeavors of people in the community

Jennifer and Todd Mercer, Josh and Mary Baldwin, Jackie Potter, John Morris, Carlee Mutschler and Jonathan Wszalek make up the team of Orange Ya Glad? (OYG?), which is a nonprofit organization that highlights the positive endeavors of folks in the community.

Jennifer Mercer said, “Our goal is to spread some positivity and be a bright spot in people’s lives.  We want to share stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things to help one another. [We were inspired because,] there is so much negativity in the world, and it can be corrosive, but we believe positivity is contagious too.”

The group had the concept behind OYG? last summer, and when the COVID-19 pandemic, started,  it knew it was time to launch it. The Mercers named the organization, saying, “We wanted something fun, positive and memorable, and we have told the ‘Orange ya glad I didn’t say banana?’ joke a thousand times in our house.  We thought it was fitting.”

The local community can nominate people it feels that have done something to benefit others. Jennifer said, “We have a NOMINATE A HERO online submission process where anyone can submit a hero through our website  Thro.ugh the list of entries, we prioritize the ones that seem most timely and relevant.  But all great things deserve recognition, even the simplest acts.  We also post stories of positivity whenever we see them, and encourage people to send those to us, too, by tagging social media content they find with #OYG.”

The organization looks for qualities in heroes that exhibit selflessness, compassion, diligence and awareness. “There are so many people with these qualities out there sharing their talents and concern for others,” Jennifer said.

The Orange Ya Glad? website, has a, Gallery of Heroes it has recognized.  Included are Henry Radzikowski, who designed a face shield and enlisted friends with 3D printers to produce enough to provide the entire dining services team at a nursing home, and Jenni Green, who along with her husband, Derek, founded Alex’s Army in honor of their son, which has raised over $500,000 for Pediatric Cancer. 

Also, included are Angela Miller, a second grade teacher at Haymarket ES, who was recognized for her dedication to her students during the shutdown, Casar Portillo-Martinez and Junior Bonzu, Battlefield HS, who have worked diligently serving customers at Harris Teeter during the pandemic and Chris Howell, who has raised money for furloughed workers due to the pandemic.

Jennifer said, “We have a number of what we are calling mission partners that have contributed to underwrite our efforts.  All of their contributions are going to t-shirts, advertising and most importantly, we are making a donation in honor of every hero we recognize to Children’s National [Hospital.]”

The feedback the group is getting is always positive.

“People are interacting on Facebook, sending us messages and nominating heroes.  One woman told us this week that she goes to our Facebook page every morning, because she looks for a positive way to start her day.  This is what fuels us,” said Jennifer.

She is also very proud of Todd, her husband, whose efforts brought the organization together. OYG? has impacted her life in such a positive manner.

Jennifer shared, “It’s pretty easy to get caught up in all of the negativity, to be scared and confused about what is happening and to become overwhelmed with the uncertainty of what could happen next.  This has been a really fun and inspirational project to work on in so many ways.  I love to see the stories of positivity and selflessness.  I love reading the hero submissions where people are proud to share of how someone else impacted their lives, and I have really enjoyed seeing how humanity is showing such compassion for others in their community.  We are drawing inspiration from our awesome team, because they all have full time jobs, and the fact that they are all working on this in their free time is pretty powerful and impressive.”





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