Mothers from Around the World Making Waves During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By David GallagherLast Updated May 8, 2020 5:09:45 PM ET
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Mothers make society work. Many are amazing professionals, wise teachers and nurturing caretakers. They’re perhaps the closest thing we have to superheroes. So what do superheroes do in a time of crisis? They save the day!

Like millions of others, these incredible mothers are saving the day during this global COVID-19 pandemic. Whether they're working on the frontlines themselves, supporting others who do, or helping us all keep it together, these heroic mothers deserve a shoutout.

Megan Benjamin

Megan Benjamin is the proud mother of three children, the eldest of whom is only nine years old. Although being a mother is a full-time job in itself, she also works the night shift. Her usual 12-hour shifts have crept up to 13 hours or more lately. Why?

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Benjamin is a nurse in the COVID-19 unit of a major hospital in New Jersey. While she works with highly infectious patients, her children stay with her parents. For several days a week, her only contact with them is through Facetime.

Megan Jessen

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Megan Jessen was a kindergarten teacher and mother of two young daughters. Now, she has a much larger virtual classroom with 88,000 students. She began posting one-hour kindergarten classes to her public Facebook group for the benefit of her friends. Soon, a friend invited a friend, and on and on until her classroom roster grew exponentially.

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Although young ones can't go to school, they are getting an amazing kindergarten experience online because of this super creative mom. Jessen even writes original songs to teach the children.

Debbie Allen

Debbie Allen is a renowned dancer, actress, producer and all-around entertainer. She is also the mother of three successful children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she used her talents to bring fun exercise and a welcome distraction to millions of people.

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Allen not only hosts free dance classes on Instagram live, but also launched an Instagram profile called the Debbie Allen Dance Academy where other instructors and students can do the same. With so many children and adults temporarily unable to attend dance classes in person, learning from a professional is a welcomed diversion.

Angelina Friedman

Angelina Friedman is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother to many descendants. She also happens to be 101 years old, and that's not even the most interesting thing about her. When Mrs. Friedman was a young child, she was born on an immigrant passengers' ship during a voyage from Italy to the United States. Later, she survived both cancer and COVID-19.

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Friedman contracted COVID-19 when she was a resident at a Westchester nursing home. Much to the relief of her many relatives, she survived, and her viral story is bringing smiles to people all over the world.

Liz Koto

Liz Koto lives in a Detroit neighborhood that has plenty of sidewalks, and she understands her community's need for laughter during coronavirus lockdowns. That's why she posted a sign outside of her home asking neighbors to put on a show by doing their silliest walk as they pass by.

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Her family enjoys watching out for silly walkers. If she misses anyone, she can view footage of the walkers later through her doorbell camera. This may seem like a small gesture, but in times like these, warming someone's heart can go a long way.

Iris Nolasco

Many women dream of those first few moments when they can hold their firstborn child, but Iris Nolasco sacrificed that once-in-a-lifetime moment to keep her newborn daughter, Isabella, safe. In her third trimester, Nolasco contracted COVID-19.

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Due to complications from the virus, she was forced to give birth via an emergency cesarean section. After nearly a month of separation, Nolasco and her daughter, Isabella, are finally able to live together. Iris still wears a mask around her baby in accordance with doctor's orders, but nothing can break this incredibly strong mother-daughter bond.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama offers her calming voice to millions of children in a free read-along every Monday through PBS Kids’ social media profiles. During these live readings, Obama reads memorable children's books for kids across the country.

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In addition to pure entertainment, these reading sessions provide a measure of normalcy for young children struggling to understand why they aren't in school anymore. Storytime is a beloved part of the school day for children young and old, and now they get to hear great books read by one of the world's most famous women.

Pamela Orlando

Pamela Orlando is a nurse and mother who passed away due to COVID-19. Before her death, she made a very thoughtful choice that could do untold good for coronavirus research. For nearly a month, she recorded a video diary of her symptoms.

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At times, she could barely speak because the virus had taken such a toll on her lungs. She was completely incapable of speaking in her final videos. Although they are heart-wrenching to watch, these videos can help doctors and researchers get a better understanding of the illness. Her family has raised money for personal protective equipment (PPE) in her honor.

Dr. Theresa Green

Dr. Theresa Green is a mother and emergency room physician. When her ex-husband petitioned for custody of their young daughter, she temporarily lost it over fears for the child's safety.

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While continuing to work on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, Green has also tirelessly fought to regain custody of her daughter. Healthcare workers can often share a home with family when proper safety precautions are taken, so Green might be able to win her daughter back. Her decision to fight could also set a legal precedent for thousands of other medical worker parents.

Zenobia Shepherd

Zenobia Shepherd has recently suffered one of the worst pains a mother can experience: She lost her daughter, Leilani, to COVID-19. Leilani was a cashier in a grocery store, and her family believes she contracted the virus at work.

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Now, Shepherd is speaking out even while she’s still grieving. By sharing her daughter’s story with the media, she has brought attention to the lack of protection for workers in some grocery stores, leading some large chains to improve their policies. Shepherd is still fighting for Leilani.

Kristen King

Kristen King is a nurse, mother and wife. Recently, one of her most important patients was one she likely never wished to care for: her own husband. After contracting COVID-19, he had a five-day hospital visit before he returned home to be cared for by his wife.

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While wearing hospital-grade PPE, King attended to her husband before methodically sanitizing herself and caring for her children. She chronicled her family's ordeal via video to show that the disease can affect younger people as well. Her videos also explain how familial caregivers can keep themselves safe.

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera is not just an iconic entertainer, but also a caring mother and philanthropist. She recently used her celebrity status to promote The Shade Tree of Las Vegas, a domestic violence shelter for women and children.

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Now that people are sheltering in place, many nonprofits have seen their donations dry up. Still, organizations like The Shade Tree need funds and supplies more than ever, as widespread job loss and isolation has exacerbated domestic violence across the world. By donating her own money and calling attention to the charity, Aguilera helped remedy the situation, at least a little bit.

Diana Berrent

Diana Berrent lives with her young children and immunocompromised husband. Although she developed a dry cough for several days, it nearly took an act of Congress for her to get tested for COVID-19.

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When she was denied a test at multiple urgent care facilities, she took to social media to try to find help. After gaining lots of attention on social media, her local congressman helped her get tested, and she was positive. After recovering, she started Survivor Corps to encourage other survivors to donate blood and plasma to help medical researchers better understand the disease and find effective treatments.

Shatarra Williams

Shatarra Williams is facing a tough situation that is unfortunately familiar to many mothers around the world right now. She recently became unemployed after everyone at her job was laid off due to COVID-19. Williams is a single mother of three young girls.

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She describes taking care of her children while school is out as a time-consuming yet worthy task. When her girls are napping, she takes time to tirelessly apply for jobs. Although she is still searching for one, she maintains a positive attitude. It takes a heroic woman to keep it together in such a difficult situation.

Ruth the Runner

Like countless other events, marathons across the world have been canceled due to the coronavirus. Runners in England have taken this opportunity to run in and around their homes to raise money for charity. One of them, Ruth, is 87 years old and self-isolating with her three adult children.

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Ruth and her children successfully completed a 4,000 lap challenge in 10 hours. The money they raised from participating in the challenge will go towards research for myeloma, a disease that one of her sons suffers from. Ruth is one great athlete and one amazing mom!

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is a tennis legend and the mother of a beautiful baby girl. Since most countries are practicing social distancing, her slate of tennis matches for the next few months has been canceled. Williams, however, isn’t letting that hold her back.

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Serena Williams signed on to join a live event on the Facebook Gaming app with tennis stars and other celebrities playing Mario Tennis. More than $1 million has been raised for a variety of charities.

Dr. Deborah Birx

Right now, so many mothers just want to hold their children close, but Dr. Deborah Birx is sacrificing time with her loved ones to lend her medical expertise to the fight against the coronavirus. Birx is a physician who has done extensive research in the field of HIV and AIDS immunology.

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She currently serves as a member of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, where she regularly appears in public television briefings that help break down emerging medical data in terms that the public can understand. Her addresses help the public differentiate between fact and fiction and hear what scientists have proven to be true.

Brooke Thomas

Brooke Thomas and her children lived in Williston, Vermont. Before most other schools shut down, schools in her area were already closed temporarily for a deep clean after a faculty member tested positive for COVID-19.

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The custodial staff were working long shifts while wearing protective equipment, handling dangerous chemicals and unexpectedly putting themselves on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight. After making a Facebook post about their brave and important efforts, Thomas decided to back up her words by raising money for the janitorial team. Her efforts led to a $7,000 gift for them.

Maye Musk

Maye Musk is Elon Musk's mom. Although she has a famous son, the 71-year-old model is famous in her own right. She’s currently using her celebrity status to raise money for jobless people in the fashion industry.

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Spring is usually a busy time for models, designers and other fashion industry workers, but this year, all of the famous events have been canceled. Through an organization called A Common Thread, Musk is challenging fellow models to post videos of them strutting in their homes to raise money.

Dr. Anna Zimmerman

While parents are often more at risk from the coronavirus than their kids, even young kids sometimes end up catching it while their parents can only watch. Dr. Anna Zimmerman’s four-year-old son was diagnosed with COVID-19. While he is healthy today, he had to fight hard against the disease.

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He spent several days in the hospital, and Zimmerman stayed with him while her husband cared for her other children. Like so many others, Zimmerman carefully chronicled her son's symptoms via video. Because of COVID-19 precautions, hospital staff entered her son's room as seldom as possible.

Lisa Jamieson

Lisa Jamieson is a mother of two, and she was inspired to help when she saw that healthcare workers in her area were making huge sacrifices with dwindling supplies. Since she is a talented baker, she decided to auction off a cake on a website called JustGiving to raise money for healthcare workers.

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In true coronavirus fashion, she baked the cake in the shape of a toilet paper roll with the words "Stay Home" written in icing. Thanks to nearly 300 people, Jamieson was able to raise $2,681 for the Milton Keynes Hospital. The donation will go a long way.

Eliza Burgess

Eliza Burgess is the proud mother of Steven Burgess, a seven year old with a big heart. Her son was inspired by all of the sacrifices people in the medical community were making, and he wanted to help out. He decided to run a mini-marathon in his backyard to raise money.

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Eliza helped Steven get his message out to the world by sharing it for him on social media. It took him six hours to run the mini-marathon, and he was able to raise $1,500 with his mother's support. He received almost 40,000 views.

Silvia Leroy

Silvia Leroy is a nurse and mother of two. She was pregnant with her second child when the pandemic started, but she gave no thought to taking off from work. She worked at the hospital of an underserved community and felt compelled to keep helping.

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After contracting coronavirus herself, Leroy experienced a premature birth and suffered brain damage from a temporary loss of oxygen. Despite these complications, Leroy's husband and sister are helping her with a GoFundMe page.

Fang Lulu

Most mothers would go to any lengths to protect their children, and Fang Lulu is no exception. She lives in an area of China where lockdown precautions have been lifted, but she still wants her sons to have extra protection.

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Her two-year-old and two-month-old boys had specialty protective suits crafted by her husband to allow them to go outside again. Fang has done her best to keep her children’s lives as normal yet safe as possible, spacesuits and all.

Krissy Hamilton

Krissy Hamilton is a supportive mother who is helping her innovative children make a difference. Her and her husband felt it was important for their children to understand the economic toll on people who cannot work from home, so they took special care to teach them about the struggles other people were facing.

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After understanding the situation, the Hamilton children felt compelled to help. They asked their parents to help them set up a GoFundMe page, which they used to raise over $3600. Krissy says she's amazed by her children’s initiative.

Christianne Klein

Christianne Klein co-authored the book Anna and the Germ That Came to Visit with her mother, Helene van Sant-Klein, who is a nurse and family therapist. The book explains the coronavirus in simple terms that young children can understand.

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Klein was concerned about how to explain the pandemic to her young daughter. While there are children's books about a variety of other tough subjects, none existed on living through a pandemic. By writing the book, Klein and Sant-Klein helped other parents put their own children at ease.

Pink

Pink is a talented musician whose career has spanned decades, and she is also the mother of two beautiful children. The coronavirus has been a very personal experience for Pink, as both she and her three-year-old son contracted the virus.

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She detailed on social media how the two of them suffered for nearly a month with 100-degree fevers. Despite her personal battle, she took time to support philanthropic efforts by participating in the online Chat and Feed series, which raises money for the needy. She also donated $50,000 to Temple University Hospital.

Chrissy Merulla

Masks are a key piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) that many essential workers are running out of. Organizations across the word, from hospitals to grocery stores, have called on the kindness of the public to help them protect employees by donating homemade masks.

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Chrissy Merulla answered that call. In normal times, the mother of two teenagers teaches special education, but after the pandemic began, she chose to spend her days sewing countless masks. She even attaches kind notes to some of the masks. As a former volunteer EMT, this project is very close to her heart.

Michelle Brassard

Michelle Brassard is a mother of two who noticed that seniors in her community were unable to benefit from food banks and delivery services. Because of their vulnerability to the virus and restrictions on many senior residences, many seniors couldn’t safely get food.

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That's why Brassard got permission to turn the car dealership where she worked into a drive-thru foodbank. Because of her efforts, seniors in her area are able to get the food they so desperately need without exposing themselves to food bank crowds or delivery people.

Brianna Donofrio

Some people with developmental disabilities require visits from in-home caregivers. Needless to say, COVID-19 complicated the process of offering that aid. Brianna Donofrio, however, wouldn’t let a mere pandemic stop her from providing help to her community.

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Normally, Donofrio is an administrator for a program that provides in-home services. While she continued to perform her job from home, she also stepped up to work as a caregiver herself, and all while raising two children.