Heroes are emerging in every corner of the nation, from grocery store clerks to doctors to chefs to software developers. What do they have in common? They’re all people who are doing their part to positively impact their communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It’s amazing to see the country form a united front and pull out all stops to ensure people have continued access to the goods and services they need. Those operating on the frontlines of this pandemic—essential works, first responders, and healthcare professionals—deserve our recognition and support.
Whether employed, laid off, or retired, everyone has an opportunity to serve and put their skills to work. COVID-19 heroes aren’t just the scientists in a lab, they’re the volunteers, the nurses working overtime, the technology companies offering their services for free, and the recently retired doctors who, without a thought, have offered up their care, despite the risks. Today we want to recognize those who have gone above and beyond to serve.
Recognizing Healthcare Heroes
Healthcare professionals are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, but they persist in their passion for helping and healing others. Nurses like Nixon Ciceron, who practices at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center received a heartfelt letter from a patient describing him as “one of the nicest nurses I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.”
Ciceron derives great joy and purpose from healing others, and can’t help but provide top-notch care to every patient he encounters. He can’t sit back and watch others suffer without helping, and it’s compassionate healthcare professionals like him that continue to inspire meaningful action and create positive change.
Out Of Retirement
Stanley Berry, M.D., who practices at Detroit Medical Center, was transitioning into retirement before COVID-19 in order to work full-time on his novel. But when COVID-19 struck, he immediately signed up to be a volunteer, and despite the risks involved (he is 67) he is determined to give back to the community that he describes as being “so good to him.”
While Berry is aware that he’s putting his life in danger every day, he recognizes that all the great heroes in history, such as Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers, faced the same dangers, and yet, they persevered in their mission because they recognized a great calling.
Filling a Need
Many children in low-income families depend on government funded meals provided in schools to get the food they need, but with the advent of temporary school closures, children have lost access to that resource.
To ensure kids are well-fed, local heroes are stepping up to the plate. Megan Schaper, State College School District Food Service Director in State College, Penn., has worked tirelessly on implementing a plan to serve over 10,000 meals to children every single week.
All of her colleagues describe Schaper as a woman with incredible leadership skills, and they’re honored to be part of an organization that’s carrying out such important work.
Essential Workers Make a Difference
Grocery store clerks are now on the front lines, sacrificing their safety to ensure America gets fed. Suddenly, the high school students working behind the registers and the previously part-time employees stocking shelves are pillars of their communities, and their services are essential.
They’re working harder than ever, and while the work is risky, it can also be very rewarding. Shanna Foster, an Instacart shopper in Simi Valley California, describes a particularly meaningful experience with a shopper who needed help picking out items.
Keeping in constant communication with the shopper, Foster ensured the woman had everything she needed, and then drove to the woman’s house to unload the groceries. The woman’s husband gave Foster a card that she later opened in her car. The card was a heartfelt thank you from the woman she had shopped for—who, it turned out, has cancer and so is at even greater risk during the pandemic.
Foster says, “I made the experience so good for her that she felt as if she were shopping. And that was a wonderful feeling.”
First Responders Don’t Give Up
As a paramedic who responds to 911 calls, Alanna Badgley is on the first line of defense, and with hospitals restricting visitors, she’s often the last point of contact for families and loved ones. When Badgley arrives, she has to inform the family they can’t go on the ambulance, and they can’t be at the hospital.
That’s when it hits them that it could be their last goodbye, and paramedics like Badgley try their best to not only soothe the family, but to give the patient the comfort they would normally get from their loved ones.
Badgley says, “I’m able to provide some level of empathy and humanity in the moment in which they are truly terrified.” With COVID-19 cases rising, empathic and brave paramedics like Badgley are people making a remarkable difference for thousands of COVID-19 sufferers and their families.
For those of us who aren’t serving on the front lines, we can still be heroes by choosing to social distance, and by staying home as frequently as possible. No act of kindness is too small, and no efforts to help our communities are insignificant. We’re all living in these unprecedented times together, and a little compassion and reassurance goes a long way.