Monday Author: Susanne Skinner
It takes a pandemic to remind us of the heroes among us. They are everyday people; the ones we rely on to keep our lives running smoothly. Normally, we don’t give individuals like this a second thought, but a crisis shines a bright light on how much we depend on the services they provide.
Frontline workers put themselves at risk every day to sustain our economy and keep the wheels on the bus. These ordinary men and women fill internet orders, sort and deliver mail and staff businesses so they can remain open.
It’s time to recognize the sacrifices made by those picking up waste and recycled materials, stocking shelves and running the checkout lines. Let’s not forget soup kitchens and food pantries—hunger is worse in a crisis.
Hospital and environmental cleaners are working in the thick of it to keep rooms and equipment sanitized for record breaking numbers of patients and healthcare workers.
Certain types of work can be done from home, but there are some jobs that will never be remote. Many of them are minimum wage; have long hours and require workers to leave the safety of their homes. Workers do these jobs without fanfare or headlines.
First Responders and Health Care Heroes
Time magazine named them Guardians of the Year. All of them wear uniforms and masks. They literally guard our lives, manning the frontlines of our healthcare crisis in hospitals, clinics, police and fire stations.
We can see the depth of their dedication, sacrifice, and service in a very public way. Media coverage shows overburdened emergency rooms and weary warriors battling to save those who are sick and dying.
The most well-known face of the crisis, Dr, Anthony Fauci, leads the charge with clear and consistent information. He’s become a household name, and his commitment and integrity consistently present us with the facts of this illness. He appears tireless but Dr. Fauci turns 80 on Christmas Eve.
The pandemic will eventually slow, and with the new vaccine relief is in sight for patients and caregivers. Most of us cannot comprehend their sacrifice. Behind every frontline service provider there is a family; partners and children also at risk until the threat is over.
Our future lies in the hands of teachers. This year, back to school meant something completely different for students and educators. Depending on geography, schools had both in-person and remote options, as well as a hybrid of the two. Despite a pandemic, teachers continued to teach while learning and implementing new methodologies.
These heroes approach each day with flexibility, commitment and dedication to their students. They invest in shaping young people into adulthood. On the best of days, they do not enjoy a 9-to-5 job. Teaching is an underpaid, overworked and underfunded profession. In addition to straight teaching, these men and women serve as mentors, counselors, role models and coaches.
Every educator I know chose the profession because they are passionate about teaching and value their role in shaping the future.
Frontline retail workers keep stores stocked and clean and their customers safe. Each one takes a personal risk to remain employed.
Hazard pay has largely been eliminated for retail workers even though work is no less hazardous than it was seven months ago. Fifteen major U.S. retail companies eliminated hazard pay, even though the virus continues to spread. They prioritized profits over their frontline worker’s wages.
Nine of the companies that halted hazard pay and bonuses reported an increase of $10.5 billion in profits this year. Walmart and Amazon lead the list. Costco, Publix, Home Depot, and Lowe’s continue to provide workers with extra pay.
Heroes live all around us and most are complete strangers. They are invisible until we are confronted with something that is impossible to comprehend. It should not take a pandemic for us to recognize them.
You can find them in schools and neighborhoods, volunteering and working on the frontlines of health care, education and retail. They fight for benefits and services for marginalized groups with a higher risk of infection and hospitalization.
Though 2020 has been challenging, the year also created opportunities to help a friend, a family member, a stranger or an entire community.
Hard-working people for whom there are no days of rest, no ceremonies and little to no recognition stepped up and stepped in.
Eventually the virus will be stopped. Isolation, sickness and suffering will fade as we rebuild our economy and the world returns to normal. Remember and thank all those who made it possible. Appreciation can be the difference in someone’s day.
When it is over, let us not forget the definition of sacrifice, compassion and humanity in the unsung heroes among us.