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Signs of gratitude for frontline workers sprout up around Newton

A "Sign of Gratitude" appeared on Elgin Sreet in Newton.Lisa Gordon

Four Newton residents created a program to distribute free lawn signs to people who want to display gratitude for COVID-19 frontline workers. In exchange for the signs, they’re suggesting donations to local groups helping people during the pandemic.

The program, “Signs of Gratitude,” will donate proceeds from the signs to the Newton-Wellesley Hospital COVID-19 Fund, the Newton COVID-19 Care Fund, and the Newton Food Pantry.

“This is a program really for people to easily be able to show their thanks to everyone who is going out and basically interfacing with the public,” said Lisa Gordon, one of the founders of this program.


Gordon said they hope people see the signs on their way to work and know they’re appreciated.

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us had to stay home,” Gordon said. “But a lot of people didn’t have that luxury and they needed to go to work to help us all.”

Gordon said the idea of lawn signs stemmed from the election season.

“When candidates are running, people put up lawn signs to show who they support,” Gordon said. “When people see that — especially the candidates who are running — it feels good.”

Gordon said they suggest a minimum $2 donation for the signs, which she said is much less than the cost of making them, and people can choose where to donate their money among the three recipients. They also offer and deliver free signs to people who can’t donate.

The Village Bank paid for the signs, said Susan Paley, the bank’s vice-president of community relations.

“The Bank has done other things such as provide meals for first responders but we particularly like this project because it’s a public ‘thank you’ plus our nonprofits are able to share in the generosity of our community,” Paley said in an e-mail.


Since they launched in May, the program has raised about $5,000 of their goal of about $8,000, said Simon French, who designed their website. In an interview June 30, French said they have given out about 300 signs, with approximately 300 more in stock.

French said it is great to know the lawns signs are making a difference.

“It’s kind of quite gratifying to actually talk to some of these frontline workers, and they say how they appreciate seeing it on signs. Some say how it’s uplifting on their way to work,” he said. “We’re happy that people appreciate them.”

There are two signs of gratitude to choose from, with an additional blank sign for people to design something on their own. Gordon said the two designers donated their work for free.

Dean Whitney, who owns the small design firm Catapult. and designed one of the signs, said he got involved because of his wife.

“Over the last 10 years, maybe more, we’ve designed a lot of Newton things because my wife is a serial volunteer,” he said. For this project particularly, Whitney said “it was just a real honorable thing” for the organizers to do.

Joe Napurano, who designed the other sign and has worked as a product designer for about 30 years, said it is important to keep “cheerleading” for frontline workers.

“This is honestly the least I could do to support,” he said.

Gordan said people can choose to honor first responders by name on a section of the group’s website dedicated to “Heroes.” She and French deliver the signs, Gordon said, and they welcome people who don’t live in Newton to order them.


“I’ve brought signs to Wellesley and other places outside of Newton, because I feel so strongly that people need to be recognized,” Gordon said.

Napurano said it is important to express gratitude.

“What can do you in your own household to make other people’s lives a little better? Napurano asked. Sometimes, that’s just saying “thank you.”

Yumeng Zhang and Yian Zhou can be reached at