Monique Drobnak

Monique Drobnak

A Johnstown native who created a social media page in 2020 to help the community’s small businesses survive the pandemic lost her own personal battle with COVID-19.

Monique Drobnak, 44, a marketing specialist living in central Florida, died Friday, friends announced.

Drobnak created and co-administered a “Greater Johnstown Restaurants and Businesses” Facebook page in the late spring of 2020, enabling small business operators to share daily menus, specials and stories at a time government shutdowns enabled them to operate only on a takeout basis. Over the year since, the site grew to more than 10,900 members.

“That page single-handedly saved my business during COVID, and it still keeps helping to this day,” said Red’s Texas BBQ owner Tracy McCarthy, “and it just reflected who Monique was as a person.”

The effort displayed Drobnak’s boundless, bubbly optimism, even in difficult times, McCarthy said.

Drobnak was a 1995 Forest Hills graduate and is survived by two children, according to an online obituary.

McCarthy grew up in the same neighborhood as Drobnak, who moved to Florida in her late teens but still has family in the community.

After she was hospitalized with COVID-19 over the past month, many group members followed her progress through the page, sending well-wishes and prayers.

“It’s so devastating because we thought she was getting better,” McCarthy said. “It’s hard to believe she’s gone.”

A "celebration of life" service will be organized at a later date in the Johnstown area after family and close friends have time to grieve her loss, she said.

Businesses across the Johnstown community are planning to honor Drobnak on Tuesday, her birthday, by decorating in pink, her favorite color, McCarthy said. Red’s Texas BBQ invited the community to wear pink and bring wands and bubbles for a special release in her memory at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Elton Road location.

“We want to celebrate her life,” McCarthy said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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