While most Islanders saw this week’s blizzard as a chance to hunker down with family and friends, Kristen Tidmarsh Araujo of Edgartown saw it as an opportunity to help out others. Monday morning, as the skies darkened and the forecast worsened, Ms. Araujo offered to check on the elderly with a post on Islanders Talk, a Facebook page with more than 3,400 members.
Response was immediate.
Over the next 48 hours, Ms. Araujo, powered by her trusty four-wheel-drive Ford truck and countless cups of coffee, made wellness checks on senior citizens, drove hospital employees to and from work, and delivered supplies to volunteers at the Red Cross shelter at Tisbury School.
When The Times caught up with her late Wednesday morning, she, along with her two sons Trey and Devin, was shoveling the driveway of an elderly Oak Bluffs resident. “I’ve had a couple of two- or three-hour naps since Monday,” she said in a remarkably chipper voice. “It’s been good. A lot of people needed help, so why not?”
In her duties as a volunteer for the Massachusetts medical reserve corps, Ms. Araujo helped set up the Red Cross shelter at the Tisbury School. “Once I saw they were in good shape, I thought about what else I could do,” she said. “The one thing about the shelter is they don’t have transportation to it. Police will occasionally do it if they can, but they can’t be out there doing a taxi service. That’s what gave me the idea. I grew up on the Island, and I’m comfortable driving in the snow, and I know a lot of people are not. On my first [Facebook] post I said, ‘If people are concerned about loved ones I’ll be happy to go check on them for you.’
Then a nurse’s aide from the hospital said, ‘I work at Windemere and a lot of us can’t get in to our shift, and some people have been working more than doubles and they can’t get home,’ and I said, ‘Great, I’ll be right there.’ I have a great big four-wheel-drive that can go through just about anything. I blessed my truck and said, ‘Come on girl, we’ve got a job to do.’”
Ms. Araujo spoke to the director of nursing, Marie Araujo, her aunt by marriage, and made the same offer. “They really needed to have the RNs there,” she said. “Once the nurses got my number, I literally did 48 hours around the clock. It started out as giving a few people rides who were stranded, and turned into something much bigger. The great thing about giving rides to the nurses is that they could give me coffee intravenously,” she joked.
Ms. Araujo said she also delivered medications, clothing, and magazines to the shelter volunteers. “It spiraled into this thing that was so useful for so many people. Everybody kept trying to pay me. That’s not why I’m doing this, but thanks anyway.”
Ms. Araujo, owner of Shear Inspiration Salon in Edgartown, had praise for her husband Jay and sons Trey and Devin, who also helped out. “After about 20 hours I recruited my family. They were great about it. They’re used to me doing this kind of thing,” she said. The Araujo family are serial good Samaritans. Just before Christmas in 2012, they drove an Econoline van brimming with much-needed supplies to the main distribution center of “Occupy Sandy,” in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“I was raised by a single mom, and so her and I were all we had,” Ms. Araujo said. “Doing things to help her out always made me feel good, and I just kept that throughout my whole life. When you do something unexpected for somebody, it gets an amazing response, and it always feels good.”