UPPER WEST SIDE — As a Navy Hospital Corpsman stationed in North Carolina, 26-year-old Jonathan Cordova is used to keeping up with his family on Long Island using FaceTime, a new norm for many during this time of social distancing.
But, the realization that his home state is the epicenter of the coronavirus is something that took a while to set in.
“It wasn’t until I caught up with my parents again that I realized how severe things were truly getting,” Cordova explained. “I started hearing about the amount of cases and how overwhelmed people are getting, especially first responders and medical personnel.”
A lack of jobs and resources during the pandemic inspired him to give back in his own way through art, especially since he can’t be physically present to friends and family.
“I had recently started getting back into drawing and decided to do a piece to commemorate the place I call home,” Cordova said. “Drawing is a way for me to express myself and my emotions.”
The drawing he made features a forlorn nurse wearing a surgical mask, which features the New York City skyline.
“The ideas just came together as I was drawing with the finishing touches, a statement saying ‘Hold Strong,’ ” he explained. “New Yorkers are tough, and it’s just a reminder to keep on pushing, have faith and that we’ll get through it just like we always do.”
Cordova has friends across the New York area who have contracted the virus or lost loved ones to it. Members of his own unit have been dispatched to the USNS Comfort, currently docked in New York City, and yet another corpsman is supporting the field hospital at the Javits Center.
“I worry for my family and friends. I worry for those who are on the front lines exposing themselves … so others may live,” he added. Initially, there wasn’t any intention of using the art piece as a means to fundraise.
“ I got a great amount of feedback, and multiple friends of mine said I should turn it into a shirt,” he said.
Cordova has generated close to $1,000 worth of funds so far, all of which he’ll donate to the New York City COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund.
This week, shirts have started shipping out and showing up on people’s doorsteps.
For Cordova, a Catholic, the chance to use his hobby to help was a no-brainer. “Helping others is something that we are taught as children in religion classes,” he explained. “It’s one of the foundations of our faith, and is part of who I am.”