Dr. Brandon White loves the food scene in Birmingham and regularly samples the best of what Birmingham has to offer. In fact, he eats almost every meal out and says it’s Birmingham’s top-notch eateries that influenced White’s choice to practice medicine in Birmingham.
“I grew up in a small town in southern West Virginia,” White shares. “After medical school, I worked as a traveling doctor. After a few years of the traveling I started looking at all the places I had worked and Birmingham was my favorite, mostly because of all the great food!”
White serves as a hospitalist at UAB Medical West in Bessemer. Over the years he’s gotten to know a lot of restaurant owners, managers and staff and become friends with them. When COVID-19 brought quarantine orders to Birminhgam, White grew concerned about the restaurants being able to stay in business.
“I spoke to a lot of my friends and they were looking to rapidly get set up for curbside delivery and other options. So, I thought, how could I help? At the same time, working long hours in the isolation ICU wards at the hospital, I saw that it was getting even harder than usual to find time to try to eat with hospital cafeterias closed to the public and operating only during narrow windows.”
White realized he could work to solve both issues simultaneously with an initiative called BHMcares. The idea was to schedule a restaurant for each day of the week and provide a website where people could make online donations or call the restaurant directly to contribute funds. Initially he planned to have seven restaurants, one for each day of the week, and they would use the money donated to prepare as many meals as they could given the budget. BHMCares volunteers would pick up the food and deliver it to a local hospital. White’s friend in Los Angeles helped to quickly get the website established.
“After the first couple days, the response was overwhelming both from a monetary and an interest in participating standpoint and it quickly became more than I can do on my own as I was still working at the hospital and serving as a director of Alabama Hospice Care of Birmingham which is a 24/7 job.”
White reached out to Robin, one of his oldest friends in Birmingham who is an expert in managing data and logistics. She helped White coordinate more than 50 restaurants that signed on to participate. Two more friends jumped in to manage deliveries. Then the unimaginable happened.
“I got sick with the coronavirus and ended up in the ICU as a patient myself. Robin and the gang kept everything going in my absence without a missed beat. They're an amazing team and I couldn't do it without them.”
· BHMcares has accepted donations exceeding $67,000
· Over 50 Birmingham restaurants have taken part
· Over 4,800 meals provided
· Food has been delivered to workers at 15 healthcare centers
White says the response has been astounding. He says many local restaurants have gone out of their way to help accommodate the goal of providing food to both day and night shift workers. He also reports that several local businesses made large or recurring weekly donations. In addition to the great food, White says he has always felt an exceptional friendliness in Birmingham.
“The whole thing has been so overwhelmingly positive. It started off as such a small idea and exploded into a huge thing over just a couple days as the word got out. I've had so many folks email or message just saying thank you and we've received cards and thank you notes from most all of the places we've delivered. This is a wonderful city and it’s really shown over these past few months.”
Unos Tacos * Slice * Melt * Fancy's on 5th * Bamboo on 2nd * Eugene's * Tostada's Homewood * Vintage Comfort Food Truck * The Standard * Billy's Sports Grill * Miami Fusion Cafe * Mooyah Burgers & Fries * Boardroom Bar & Grill * Gus's Fried Chicken * 1918 Catering * Tropicaleo * Saw's Juke Joint * Homewood Gourmet * Satterfield's * Taco Magic Food Truck * Black Market * 5 Bar * Dreamland * Johnny Ray's * Dale's Southern Grill * Gianmarco's * Wall Street Deli * Diplomat Deli * Godfather's Pizza
St. Vincent's East * UAB Medical West * St. Vincent's Downtown * UAB Main * Brookwood Baptist * Princeton Baptist * Grandview Medical Center * Children's of Alabama * Birmingham VA Medical Center * Shelby Baptist * Brookwood Baptist Freestanding Emergency Department * Medical West Freestanding Emergency Department * Brookwood Select Specialty Hospital * Brookwood Cancer Care Center * Assurance Scientific Laboratories