Heroes Work Here — They work in the homes, in the school, in each and every building Little City operates. There are heroes like David Kim who was the first to quarantine with a resident who contracted COVID-19. Heroes like Kim Hogan and Jeanette Nelson who keep residents healthy and safe through their healthcare work. Craig Wissmiller and the maintenance team who tirelessly sanitize and clean each building day after day.
Others like Meaghan Grap take the lead on remote learning while DSPs like Armelia Bailey and Theresa Makinde-George become like mothers to those who live in the homes they work in. There was no shortage of heroes at Little City in 2020 and those who took on the responsibility of quarantining alongside residents who had COVID-19 were among the biggest. David Kim was the first DSP to quarantine with a resident, answering the call less than a month after the first shelter in place orders were implemented.
When he received the call, he was ready to stay as long as needed. The quarantine lasted seven days and showed Little City and the DSPs it relies on could overcome the difficult battle. Despite the challenging and extraordinary circumstances, David said he didn’t feel like he was doing anything above and beyond until he had a video chat with the resident’s mother during the quarantine.
“When I got to see his mother on video call and we were able to have that call with her together, I realized then I was doing something more important than my job,” he said. “She seemed really grateful someone was there looking after her son.”
Some DSPs even sacrificed holidays with their families to quarantine. DSP Chawah Stubbs-Amoah quarantined for 10 days with three residents. The quarantine took her past Thanksgiving, because after the 10 days of quarantine, she had a seven day isolation period in a hotel, keeping her from home for 17 straight days in November. The sacrifice was worth it, she said, partially because she was concerned she could have been exposed and did not want to risk bringing it home to her daughter who has asthma.
She said she did her best to keep routines the same for the residents during the quarantine and it was helpful they all knew each other and were comfortable around one another beforehand. “Everyday we take a risk when we go out and the coronavirus is still out there,” she said. “So I felt good about it knowing I take the risk anyway and I can help someone who needs it.” The sacrifices DSPs have made throughout the pandemic have not stopped in 2021.
Gwen Moss spent 10 days quarantining with residents during January. She said it was difficult managing the symptoms of multiple residents and the term “isolation” took on a new meaning as she could not leave the house for anything. She said during her post-quarantine hotel stay, she was able to reflect on what she actually accomplished.
“It wasn’t until after that the reality set in. I didn’t have any pat myself on the back moments and I didn’t feel like a hero, but it really set in that it was a big deal and dangerous,” she said. “I don’t know if it is because I take a lot of supplements, wore three masks at time or just the good Lord above or all three, but I managed to dodge COVID.”
The heroic works continue today at Little City. Often unheralded, the frontline workers encourage and empower those we serve continue to go above-and-beyond so people with developmental disabilities can have a brighter future. And during that work, David said he has learned something too.
“Every Little City employee plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the clients we serve, but it dawned on me that there are other heroes at Little City,” David said. “Without the people we serve, we would just be ordinary. I cannot help but to think that those we serve are as much heroes to us as we are to them.”