Dr. Ahmed Rafii takes the coronavirus personally. Some of his family are citrus farmers in Iran, the country with the tenth highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“I understand how hard it is for them,” he said. “Some of my family are very sick. But there I can’t help out. Here I can.”
Rafii, 57, owns Euphoric Life, a cannabis extraction business in Hollister. Their laboratory work requires some of the same personal protective equipment that’s become critical during the pandemic: gloves, masks and alcohol.
Rafii gets supplies for his business from China, and those ties have made it easier for him to get items that are in short supply in the United States. Knowing these items are hard to come by, Rafii is donating some of his inventory to those who need it most.
“Time comes hard and if I have access to masks or alcohol and people can’t get it, why shouldn’t I step in to help the community?” he said. “One less person not infected can affect hundreds.”
His son Aiden, 24, is director of business development at Euphoric Life. He said the company realized it had “an amazing opportunity” to help out the community.
“We started with donations to the fire department and the Hollister Police Department, and we are following that with donations to health care workers and farmers,” Aiden said.
So far, the cannabis company has donated over 200 masks, 20 boxes of gloves, and 90 bottles of sanitizer to these organizations.
“We are super appreciative of these people in the community and all they do to support us,” said Aiden, “and we are just trying to help out.”
One recipient of personal protective equipment is Mickie Luna, former Hollister city councilwoman and founder of the San Benito County League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). She said the donation from Euphoric Life was unexpected.
“Dr. Rafii was so generous,” she said. “We didn’t ask him, he offered. And we said ‘of course, we need your help.’”
LULAC passed the supplies on to local farmworkers.
“We got some alcohol, gloves and some masks,” Luna said. “The workers do not have enough masks or safety clothing. We have so many requests.”
Aiden said that even with their donations, things are still in short supply.
“The farmers we deliver to let us know they are still 110 masks short,” he said. “Hopefully some other business can administer some aid as well.”
The farmworkers have extra concerns with social distancing and cleanliness for their own protection, Luna said. Prior to Rafii’s donation, some of the farmworkers were wearing heavy gardening gloves.
“Now they see it’s easier to use the rubber gloves he gave us,” Luna said. “They are thinner and they are liking the change.”
Understanding that not everyone can donate medical equipment, Rafii suggested the best thing for others to do is offer compassion and try to help the community where they can.
“People can step in to do the grocery shopping for the elderly and stop hoarding,” he said. “Be courteous to each other. If you follow those rules, everyone will be safe.”
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