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It’s time to step up and ‘retain our humanity’

hands 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded Dr. Andrew Abraham of nutrition company Orgain "that our health is always fragile, and our lives can be fleeting."

Since founding Orgain back in 2009, I’ve lost track of the number of obstacles, hardships and challenges we’ve encountered over the last 11 years. In my own personal life and in my journey as an entrepreneur, I’ve realized any strengths I may have were born of struggle. The more difficult the struggle, the stronger, better and wiser I’ve become. It’s really the times I’ve been forced to shift my thinking from “I can’t do this” to “I must do this” that have served as the best axioms in my life.

We are now faced with perhaps the biggest global struggle we have ever encountered. But I believe this unforeseen pandemic is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on our collective resilience and is offering us a moment to develop a deeper connectedness around purpose.

Being in the food and beverage industry, we are beyond fortunate to be able to continue to operate Orgain in an effort to do our small part to keep the nation nourished during this unprecedented time. Have we had many more challenges presented to us in these last couple months? Absolutely. We had major supply chain interruptions, markedly increased demand that has us scrambling, and our dedicated team at Orgain has been working many extra hours every day just to try and manage the turmoil. 

Despite the new hurdles we’ve encountered, I’ve never felt more fortunate than I do now. I have close friends and family that own small businesses like restaurants, gyms and barbershops. They have laid off most, if not all, of their employees and are trying to navigate how they will survive. It’s devastating. Whenever I have any inclination to complain about anything, I’m immediately humbled by the seemingly insurmountable business decisions my peers are dealing with on a daily basis. 

The coronavirus pandemic has reminded me that our health is always fragile, and our lives can be fleeting. In reflecting on my experience fighting cancer as a young adult, I needed the reminder that without our health, we really have nothing. Maybe even more importantly, I was reminded of the urgent need to serve humanity, now more than ever. While we are pummeled daily with headlines surrounding the struggles and sorrows this virus has brought, I have tried to make it a daily practice to search for the opportunity and the comforting prospect of how this may be able to unite us all when we come out of the haze.

I’m a physician and finished my residency training in Family Medicine, where I worked 30-hour shifts every three days on the ward with little to no sleep. It was incredibly exhausting and that was under completely normal circumstances. Today, healthcare workers are risking their lives to save us from this nightmare that we are all hoping to wake up from. They are working around the clock with no sleep, minimal personal protective equipment and no time to even eat.

As a small way to help, we started Orgain’s Shakes For Heroes initiative and donated 100,000 of our Clean Protein shakes to healthcare workers nationwide who are on the frontlines of this crisis. The amazing response we’ve received has exceeded anything I ever anticipated, and the need was far greater than I initially thought. Even though it was a small gesture on our part, it’s opened my eyes to the fact that we should be doing more, and it solidified my personal drive to continue to drive our company through purpose and community.

It’s a critical time for all of us to step up in any way we can to help. I read an excerpt online that said doctors were told to “Hold your patient’s hand for a minute as they near death or pass and ask your entire team to stop…bow your heads, state the patient’s name and ask for silence. This helps us retain our humanity.” I had to read it a few times—to allow the harsh reality of our current situation really set in.

I’ve been hugging my family tighter, being much more mindful, and again realizing what is truly important in our lives. I’m also reevaluating how much I’m giving of myself to others and to cut to the punchline—it’s not enough. This is a “must do this” time in my life and it should be for all of us. I’m encouraging all of us to step up in any way we can and lend a hand at this time. Retaining our humanity depends on it.

Andrew Abraham, M.D., is CEO of nutrition brand Orgain and a former practicing physician. A survivor of a rare, aggressive cancer of the connective and muscle tissue, Abraham noticed nutrition was a big challenge during treatment and recovery, so he started making his own healthy shakes. Today, his company focuses on certified organic products, including many plant-based options, that are free from soy, gluten and GMOs.


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