During the COVID-19 pandemic, public employees across the nation have given back to their communities in extraordinary ways. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have been on the front lines.  

Here are stories of public employees in service to their communities.

Minneapolis firefighter goes above and beyond in helping family impacted by COVID-19 by Alex Jokich. A 27-year veteran of the Minneapolis Fire Department went out of her way to help others in need. After a local family’s grandfather passed away from COVID-19 and their mother contracted the virus and was hospitalized, firefighter Julie Flaskamp took care of the rest of the family by delivering gas cards, Target gift cards, and flowers. Jokich reports that Flaskamp is already heavily involved in the community as a sponsor for women in Alcoholics Anonymous, a substitute teacher, a coach, and co-chair of the Parent-Teacher Association. “One of my mottos is ‘nobody can do everything but everybody can do something,'” Flaskamp said. “I think there’s just so much need in Minneapolis. We’re all hurting. So to be able to get into the community, it’s just a good feeling.”

Educators, students innovate PPE to help fight virus by Isaac Windes. As the coronavirus peaked around southwest Texas in May, local teachers jumped into action to help out. Windes writes about several teachers who made and donated masks and created personal protective equipment (PPE), all the while including their students in the process. Heeding a call from the Baptist Hospitals of Southwest Texas, Elizabeth Whitley, a math teacher from Beaumont Independent School District, delivered homemade masks to frontline workers to help out. Speaking to all of the donations they have received, Mary Poole, the marketing director for Baptist Hospitals of Southwest Texas said, “I have worked in healthcare for a longtime, and it is rewarding to see how these young people have opened up their thoughts and their minds to figure out how they can make an impact and they are, they truly are.”

People taking action: Local retired teacher volunteering as driveway tutor by Kurt Williams. A retired teacher from Chesapeake, Virginia is offering free tutoring to students from a table set up in his driveway. Tim Weston, who taught English at Portsmouth middle school for 15 years, is helping out students and parents as they grapple with virtual learning. Every day from 8-11 am, while practicing social distancing, Weston is in his driveway to help current students. Weston said, “[It] gives me a reason to get up and like I said, there’s nothing like the feeling you get when a kid says, ‘I get it.'”

Be sure to check back next week for more stories of public employees giving back to their communities!