Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen so many people from all across this country stepping up in major ways. Especially right here in West Virginia.
West Virginia is like one big small town. We help one another in times of need whether we know the person or not.
I like to call this the “West Virginia spirit,” and there’s no question that this spirit has helped us through some difficult times. We saw this spirit in full swing during the aftermath of the 2016 flooding, and we are seeing that same spirit today during this pandemic.
Every day, I hear stories about how someone or some group has stepped up to the plate to help their community.
This isn’t to get attention. This isn’t because they were forced. Instead, they are stepping up because they genuinely want to help and make a difference.
While many of us have been able to telework, thousands of West Virginians and many more across the country are getting up every single day, going to work, and facing the challenges of this pandemic head-on. This doesn’t come without sacrifice.
I recently heard from Kristin Schneider, a nurse that works in the cardiopulmonary intensive care unit at Charleston Area Medical Center Memorial Hospital. Kristin said that she quarantined herself from family and friends due to fear of giving the coronavirus to them since she cares for patients infected by the disease.
Another nurse in the same unit at CAMC explained that neither she nor her colleagues felt like a hero when they gowned up. Instead, they felt privileged to hold the hands of their patients and be their support, their friend, their family, and their advocates since their loved ones were not allowed to be with them during this difficult time.
In my mind, these nurses are the very definition of heroes.
We’ve also seen heroes in other forms beyond our medical facilities.
Take our teachers as another example. They have gone above and beyond to make sure students have the tools they need to be successful. They have also gone above and beyond to do good in our communities.
I recently learned about a fourth grade teacher by the name of Christie who teaches at a school in the Eastern Panhandle. Christie coordinated an effort with her class to “adopt a senior” through the local senior center. Through this program, students write letters to their adopted seniors and connect with them virtually.
Students at Ripley High School in Jackson County are sending encouraging letters to health care workers to show them support.
Our first responders across the state have been helping boost morale in communities by driving around to different houses to celebrate birthdays happening during this time.
I’ve heard of businesses donating money to pay for the gas of health care workers, car dealerships donating masks, neighbors donating food to hospitals and others who are not able to go to the store.
I’ve heard of West Virginians taking to the street and singing songs during the Stay at Home and Safer at Home periods to brighten the days of their neighbors. This happened just the other day on the East End of Charleston.
I’ve seen Facebook posts of young people offering to run errands for seniors or those who are more vulnerable to the virus.
And, I’ve heard of West Virginians teaming up with their friends to make homemade masks and donate them to hospitals, health care workers, and others across the state.
This is the West Virginia spirit.
These are just a few examples of many that give us hope and help shed some positivity on what feel like lonely days.
I am an optimist and I know we will get through this. West Virginians are strong and so is this country.
These stories and the others that we’ve heard during this time exemplify the type of kindness that we need today.
Think about these unsung heroes. Thank them, but also learn from them. Let’s all learn a lesson and spread this kindness throughout our communities.