Markolline Forkpa and Shaina Pierce have the kind of friendship that pulls you in, making you feel as though you have known them nearly as long as they have known each other. Markolline, a non-profit professional and now Master of Public Health student at Drexel University, and Shaina, an ardent community volunteer and real estate agent in the greater Philadelphia region and Bucks County, find joy in learning from and challenging each other.
So it did not surprise either friend one bit when a casual phone call at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic turned into a mutual challenge: to raise funds and pen an op-ed to support families who were struggling to put food on their tables. Through some preliminary research, Markolline and Shaina identified Maternity Care Coalition (MCC) as, in Markolline’s words, “the perfect conduit for taking that money and translating it into resources that moms and children could use. [MCC] seemed like the perfect fit for us.”
On April 24, their FundRazr page went live, and within two weeks, Markolline and Shaina had inspired 46 contributions, totaling over $1,500. Beyond their financial contribution, Markolline and Shaina also co-authored an op-ed, expanding on this Billy Penn article about the implications that “pandemic panic shopping” had on low-income families whose WIC benefits are limited to specific products, brands, even sizes. When they read that Billy Penn article, there was no turning back. They would do something to help.
In reflecting on her experience of grassroots fundraising, Shaina shared that she was initially unsure of how her relief efforts would be received, considering the financial effect of COVID-19 on so many families. Markolline agreed, adding that once they both felt confident knowing exactly how their fundraising would support families, “[they were] surprised to learn that all it took was for someone to make that first ask.”
This story is one of boldness and generosity. Of two friends challenging each other to step outside their comfort zones and make an immediate impact. Markolline, Shaina, and their network of loved ones came together in a time of crisis and provided 8 families with a month’s worth of baby relief supplies. Whether you have known them for years, you just met for coffee, or you are complete strangers, you can agree: Markolline and Shaina make you a part of the family, their love and light infectious at a time when we could all use a little more.