Lopez is 76 years old and lives in Ecuador. COVID-19 has compromised her kidneys and lungs.
“My mother’s doctor said that she will need physical therapy, since she does not have the strength to walk,” said Tapia. “My family and I are showing my mom how much we love her, so she can be more willing to recover. When you feel happy, your system operates better.”
Tapia said her family cannot afford the medical expenses.
“In America, you have help from Medicare and other accessible plans, but not where I was raised,” she said. “In Ecuador, if you are in those public facilities, they let you die. Only if you have money they put you in a better place and care about you, but my family is poor.
“My mom is in a small clinic in a little town that does not have everything,” she added. “As the daughter or son of a patient, they ask you to buy medicine and bring it to the hospital.”
Before Tapia was out of work due to the pandemic, she was able to play an even stronger role in assisting her family.
“When I was working, I would provide them with money for food, rent, and medicine,” she said.
Tapia immigrated to New York in 2001. She remains hopeful that her mother, her father Hermel, and the rest of her family will be able to relocate from Ecuador someday.
“My dream is for them to become citizens,” she said.
The first few days of the fundraiser attracted nearly 40 donors who raised approximately $1,300.
“I’ve know Zoila for 11 years, and I’m happy to help,” said Marion Doscher, who was the first to donate. “I am wishing her mom a healthy and speedy recovery.”
In 2010, Tapia started working at Century 21 at Rego Center. Melissa Hernandez joined the team in 2012.
“Zoila is loved and would do anything for the people she cares about with a smile on her face,” Hernandez said. “The reality is that not only is COVID-19 difficult to overcome, but so is this debilitating medical debt they are incurring.”
Danny Alvarracin befriended Tapia just a short time ago.
“I feel very honored being able to contribute,” he said. “I know her mom is going to get better.”
Numerous people who never met Tapia also donated to the cause.
“It makes me feel so blessed to be able to help Zoila and her family,” said Tara Ezer.
“Reading about Maria Lopez’s situation reminded me how lucky my family is to only be scared of catching COVID, but not scared of paying for treatment,” added Alisa Koysman. “I wish her a quick recovery and some level of peace of mind.”
Tapia feels the warmth in people’s hearts.
“In the first days, I was so depressed and felt lost, not knowing what to do,” she said. “People are helping us in every way, with money, prayers, and by calling me. In this really dark time of my life, I feel that there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.”