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.

Healing with horses: First responders get help through new wellness programs by Amanda Gomez. In 2020, a community organization in Southern Arizona launched a program for first responders recovering from trauma from their service. The Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids (TRAK) started the “Heroes First” program that has helped first responders from all over the country by bringing them up and close with 4-legged friends: the horses from the farm. Erik Lindmark, a former New York City Police Officer and volunteer ranch hand at TRAK, commented, “I talk I have almost conversations with the horses and I go stall to stall and if I am having a bad day and I will talk to these animals and they listen if you look in their eyes they listen and they’re responding to you.”

Teenage students volunteer as ‘vaccine hunters’ by Mark Robertson. In our February 23 edition of Public Employee Stories, we highlighted an article about teachers in Montgomery County, Maryland, and all of their hard work helping find vaccine appointments for elderly members of their community. Those teachers, including Spanish teacher Tanya Aguilar, brought in a little help to double-down on their efforts: their students. Kashmira Heaton-Vakharia and Fernando Johnson, both 11th graders at Sherwood High School, have volunteered to help their teachers’ efforts. Robertson reports, “Both students said navigating the dozens of sites looking for vaccination appointments proved a challenge despite their computer skills, and they’re happy to snag those appointments for others. The students estimate they’ve logged 215 appointments between them.” Needless to say, behind every good students’ efforts, a great teacher is guiding them along the way. 

How the Gordon County community came together to tackle the coronavirus by Kelcey Walker. In Gordon County, Georgia, frontline workers and those in need have received tremendous support from their community. People took action to help, from students making and donating masks to local restaurants donating food to first responders. One of the community members that pitched in was James Morris, a teacher from Gordon County Schools. Morris created and donated 100 face shields and 200 ear savers to healthcare workers around the county. 

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