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Durham nurse receives $5,000 closet makeover surprise

Durham VA Medical Center nurse Jessica Massey got a $5,000 surprise to thank her for saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Rick Armstrong
, WRAL multimedia journalist
DURHAM, N.C. — Durham VA Medical Center nurse Jessica Massey got a $5,000 surprise to thank her for saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, many essential workers like Massey put themselves at risk to help others. Massey said she never expected her risk of exposure to the virus would one day be rewarded.

When fellow emergency room nurse Andy Reagan saw Closets By Design of Raleigh’s giveaway to reward an essential worker, he immediately thought of Massey.

Durham nurse receives $5,000 closet makeover surprise 

"I figured I would nominate her and see if we could make her dreams come true," said Reagan.

When he received the news that Massey had won, Reagan was invited to be part of the surprise presentation at his co-worker’s home.

Massey answered the doorbell with her 15-month-old son, Caleb, in her arms. Face masks are a normal part of her work environment, so Massey had no trouble recognizing Reagan as he announced, "Thank you for being an essential worker!"

Massey still looked a bit puzzled, so Reagan cleared up the confusion by saying, "I nominated you to win a closet."

"Oh! Thank you! Oh my God," Massey laughed, looking at the masked crowd on her lawn holding balloons. "Thank you guys."

The official prize announcement came from Closets By Design’s Chantale Persinger.

"We really appreciate all you did during the pandemic and even right now, risking your life for everybody to make us feel safe," said Persinger.

Massey recalled those early days of the COVID-19 crisis when she left her husband Kyle and young son behind at home to face uncertain risks at work.

"I think in the beginning, it was a very stressful thing," Massey said. "There were a lot of conversations between family members of ‘What if?’"

She said the effort to recognize sacrifices should be shared with other essential workers, especially at the Durham VA Medical Center.

"I work with some amazing people, and if I didn’t have their support, this pandemic would have been even harder to work in," Massey said. "So to have somebody in the community want to give back and say thank you, I really appreciate that from the bottom of my heart."

The Masseys look forward to meeting with Closets By Design for measurements and ideas to create the perfect walk-in closest in their home.



Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Jessica Patrick, Web Editor

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