Public employees across the nation give back to their communities in extraordinary ways every single day. From donating to food banks to helping their neighbors and protecting their communities, public employees have always been there when their community needs them the most. 

Teachers and school personnel are some of the most important members of our communities. They educate our children, volunteer their time and resources, and work to make a difference every day. 

West Michigan grassroots effort to create PPE expands to meet region’s needs by Genevieve Grippo. Community members in Kalamazoo, Michigan came together in extraordinary ways at the beginning of the pandemic last year. Turning to Facebook, several volunteers created the Southwest Michigan Protective Gear Project to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for local health care facilities and masks for members of the community. The group now has over 2,000 members. One of the members of the group is Jarrod DeGroff, an engineering teacher at Mattawan High School. Using his skills with a 3D printer, DeGroff printed almost 900 pieces of PPE and accessories. DeGroff commented, “I think anytime there’s a need like this, anytime we’re faced with something that our country is faced with, people step up and a lot of us have time to do that.”

In-person learning returns as Arts Council hosts Career Art Paths for middle schoolers by The Las Cruces Bulletin. With much of the country opening up, teachers are volunteering their time outside of school to ensure students are getting the education they need. Last month, the Dona Ana Arts Council (DAAC) in New Mexico hosted its first camp in two years, the Career Art Paths (CAP). One of the organizers of the camp was Hiba Mohammad, an art teacher with Las Cruces Public Schools. During the camp, middle-school students worked on self-portraits, learned set decorating, graphic design, and architecture. DAAC Program Manager Karen Conley commented, “Everyone involved was really excited to return to in-person art activities. Every day that I visited CAP, the students were really engaged in what they were doing and eager to share their artwork. I credit that to all the energy Lisa and Hiba put into the camp from selecting the speakers to organizing the space.”

Health Department cites ‘incredible volunteer turnout’ as major reason for success fighting pandemic by The Times Weekly. In Illinois, the Will County Health Department (WCHD) is thanking volunteers for their help distributing vaccinations to the community, bringing an actual meaning to the saying “it takes a village.” Utilizing the WCHD Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), the county was able to run vaccination sites with the help of the community. Mary Spata, a retired Joliet West High School health science teacher, has been a volunteer for the WCHD MRC since the beginning – and she helped get students involved in the process. While a teacher, she ran the student Future Health Professionals (HOSA) organization at Joliet West. Spata commented, “We helped wherever we could, be it registering people or even translating. Plus, as a volunteer at vaccination sites, I ran into so many of my former HOSA students who are now in college nursing programs, or came in for their vaccinations and just wanted to help. And of course, I heard many heartbreaking stories from families as well. Just being part of this WCHD team as a volunteer, and talking with all the people, has been absolutely amazing.”

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