Over the past week, BU Wheelock Counseling Psychology graduate student Yanling Dai has generously donated and ensured the delivery of 200 masks to the Boston Public Schools. This donation will provide vital protection for frontline BPS staff members who are currently serving meals to students whose families rely on BPS to provide up to two meals a day for their children.
As the COVID-19 outbreak ramped up in the Boston area, Dai, who is a first-year graduate student focusing on school counseling, reached out to friends and family back home in China to see if she could be used as a vehicle for bringing vital personal protective equipment (PPE) from China, where most are manufactured, to the Boston area.
Dai’s friends and family in China “have dealt with this situation since January,” she explains. “At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, lots of healthcare [and community service] professionals also faced the same problems. Lots of counties and…Chinese [citizens living oversees] did whatever they could to help China.” For Dai, that, coupled with the empathy and concern she felt from the BU and greater Boston community while the outbreak was centered in her home inspired her to give back in any way that she could.
Frustrated that she herself could not import large amounts of PPE to support a large healthcare institution, Dai spoke with BU Wheelock Counseling Psychology Professor V. Scott Solberg. It was Dr. Solberg who introduced Dai to the need that BPS had and the impact a donation to them could have on their meal distribution efforts.
Dr. Solberg had been in contact with BPS team members since early on in their closure, connecting with BU Wheelock alum Eva Mitchell (’99) about volunteer opportunities for graduate students. According to Dr. Solberg, “when Yanling indicated she had access to masks, it seemed like an important opportunity to [ensure] the safety of those volunteering to get food to the BPS students.” And so Dr. Solberg connected Dai to Mitchell.
A short time later, Dai was put in contact with P.J. Preskenis, Assistant Director of BPS Facilities Management to coordinate delivery at their Dorchester warehouse.
Yangling Dai sees nothing heroic about her actions. “I am happy to be helpful,” she explains, “but what I did is nothing compared to others.”
She continues to work on her graduate studies, hoping to one day work in research and youth advocacy. In the meantime, she’s proud to be a member of the BU and Boston community, saying, “We face this situation together.”