Morgan Hill City Council member Rene Spring and his husband, Mark Hoffmann, have been using art and social media to help bring some joy to local residents who are feeling lonely and afraid during the coronavirus lockdown.
Their “Stay Healthy” campaign started shortly after the local shelter-at-home order was first enacted March 17. Hoffmann, an artist and mail carrier, created a colorful drawing depicting a mushroom—Morgan Hill’s signature crop—with a smiling face covered by a surgical mask and two arms, one of which is waving at the viewer. A message below the original drawing reads, “Stay strong! Together we will get through this!”
Since then, Hoffmann and Spring have reprinted the drawing thousands of times on yard signs, greeting cards, T-shirts and other items.
They sold some of the T-shirts as a fundraiser for the local Edward Boss Prado Foundation, Spring said. Then they ordered hundreds of yard signs with Hoffmann’s art displayed, and have distributed these throughout Morgan Hill and beyond. They have even invited community members to drive by their home for “curbside pickup” of the new signs. Spring and Hoffmann have so far handed out about 700 yard signs, which Spring called a strong showing of “community spirit.” They paid for the signs out of their own pocket, but they have been asking for small donations from sign recipients.
Spring and Hoffmann also began a social media campaign known as “Morgan Hill Rocks.” Hoffmann painted colorful pictures with inspiring messages on hundreds of small rocks, then placed these on the ground in various locations throughout Morgan Hill. Followers were asked to go out and look for these rocks, then snap a selfie on social media with the hashtag #morganhillrocks.
They also printed more than 500 greeting cards with Hoffmann’s mushroom drawing, sending these to various individuals. The couple has used social media to encourage other residents to send greeting cards “to a friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, your mail carrier, delivery person, grocery store clerk, medical worker, police officer or firefighter, or to any other person whose day you’d like to brighten up,” reads a Facebook post Spring shared with the Morgan Hill Times.
Those who send greeting cards are encouraged to ask their recipients to do the same, and keep the effort going. The card campaign is known as “You Are Not Alone.”
Spring said the whole idea behind these efforts is to send some cheer to people who are feeling lonely or isolated while hunkered down in their homes in avoidance of the novel coronavirus.
“When the shelter-in-place orders came in, Mark and I quickly knew we wanted to do something,” Spring said. “We just want to tell people, you’re not alone. The idea is, no matter where you live, we’re in this together.”
Anyone interested in acquiring a yard sign—or who wants to keep an eye on what creations Spring and Hoffmann might come up with next—can follow Spring’s Facebook page “Rene Spring – MH Councilman.” More information is also available by visiting ourmorganhill.com.