PORT JEFFERSON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A graduating college senior is turning his loss into an opportunity to help others.
James Rizzardi’s grandmother, Yolanda, died in hospice shortly before the coronavirus pandemic hit.READ MORE: Former Aide Accusing Gov. Cuomo Of Sexual Harassment Says She Believes Governor Was Propositioning Her For Sex
“I was blessed with the opportunity to be there for her final moments several months ago,” Rizzardi told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Tuesday.
“Going weeks and weeks without hearing them, knowing they’re locked. They’re in quarantine,” Rizzardi said.
So he decided to use his skills to help total strangers.
“I used to repair phones and I have a lot of experience in developing software for Android,” Rizzardi said.
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He shared his ideas with fellow students, family, and friends to purchase and program tablets that terminal patients can use to talk with loved ones via Zoom, FaceTime, and Snapchat.
“Hear their voice and they can hear yours. You can ell them how much you love them,” Rizzardi said. “I cannot put words to being able to do something like that for someone.”Gov. Lamont Lifts Most COVID Capacity Limits In Connecticut, But Maintains Mask Mandate
He presented nearly three dozen tablets to Good Shepherd Hospice in Port Jefferson.
“We don’t want our family members to have any regrets in not being able to say goodbye when someone is seriously ill and terminally ill, so James’ donation is going to help us to be able to continue our mission,” said Good Shepherd president Kim Kranz.
“We’ve raised over $7,000 so far,” Rizzardi added.
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He next will deliver 30 tablets to a nursing home in Centereach. His small mission has gained the admiration of the spiritual community.
“Before COVID I would have a family gathered around a bedside. Now, with something like this they can still participate in the prayer service,” hospice chaplain Rev. Dawn Turpin said.
Rizzardi said he is the one filled with emotion.
“Humbled. Humbled … I can’t put words to it,” he said.MORE NEWS: 'Isolation Kills, Too': New Jersey Families Beg Governor To Loosen Long-Term Care Facility Visitation Restrictions
With the memory of the grandmother he loved and misses, a graduating senior using this COVID break from campus to make a real difference.