COVID Survivors for Change Founder Shares Story

Lawyer and gun control advocate Chris Kocher pivoted when the pandemic hit New York City the hardest last spring.

Chris Kocher (Courtesy: Chris Kocher)

After seeing friends survive COVID-19 or lose loved ones, Kocher knew there was a need to address the emotional trauma.

“I wanted to see if there was something I could do to support families most impacted,” he said.

COVID Survivors for Change Logo (Courtesy: Facebook)

He started COVID Survivors for Change in May, after nearly a decade with nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety.

“We have a long way to go to make sure support is given to the families that most need it,” he said.

The organization creates a network of survivors to show support for one another. They host a weekly virtual support group called COVIDConnections, which boasts over 800 survivors. The group is cost-free.

Additionally, hundreds of survivor stories from across the country are available on their website. They range from stories of COVID long haulers to stories of essential workers.

How Survivors are Moving Forward

The organization hosted several events and campaigns within the last year geared towards spreading awareness of COVID-19. During Fourth of July, survivors posted photos on social media, adding yellow to their patriotic attire or decor to show solidarity with the over 600,000 lives lost.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) was among those who retweeted COVID Survivors for Change’s post on the campaign.

(Courtesy: Twitter)

“It was really the first holiday where people felt like their country had reopened up,” said Kocher, “[but] there was so many people out there that were showing support for people who had lost a loved one.”

A virtual Survivor’s Summit delved into the concerns COVID survivors have as the country reopens, including vaccine hesitancy in certain populations.

“We know hearing the story of someone who who has had COVID or lost a loved one to COVID is one of the things that can help move people away from vaccine hesitancy,” said Kocher.

COVID Survivors for Change travelled to Capitol Hill recently to lobby alongside the group Paid Leave for All. They sought to address paid leave for those recovering from COVID or grieving a loss to COVID. Additionally, the organization wants to establish a congressional commission investigating the virus’s origins.

Kocher explained that the discussions in Congress went well, but have a long way to go.

“Everything is a work in progress,” he said. “I am pleased to see that there is a lot of energy behind paid leave.”

Published by Mallika Rao

Freelance Writer, Blogger

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