The stories of those on the frontlines of the pandemic

Stephanie J.

Stephanie J.

Editor’s note: In this edition we begin a new series about Hometown Heroes – people who are making a difference in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This feature is presented by the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2474 S. Ballenger Hwy., in Flint Township.

We, the Unitarian Universalist congregation of Flint, in keeping with one of the principles of our faith, which is acknowledging that we all have a collective responsibility to each other and therefore we are stronger together, want to honor all of those people who are truly heroes of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the medical people who are providing life-saving services to people who are fighting COVID-19 there is another group of people who are making sure that the rest of us are able to survive and get our needs met as we live through this pandemic and attempt to remain healthy.

One such person is Stephanie J. who works in a retail/grocery setting serving hundreds every day. As a single mom, she has no other option other than to keep working daily, at a minimum wage job with no hazard pay.

The bonuses they receive from their employer and the government stimulus checks are not nearly enough to ease the financial burden. There is almost nothing that can be done to reduce the emotional, physical and mental stress encountered each day.

Stephanie said she understands the customers are scared, confused, frustrated, anxious and angry as well. However, she says that she wishes “people would not take their feelings out on us for just doing our job, following the guidelines, employers’ rules, and trying to make it out of 2020 alive, healthy and with our job intact.”

Stephanie said she used to love her job, as she enjoys working with people and helping others. She says in spite of all the negative experiences such as fear of COVID-19 infection, rudeness and on occasion having her life threatened with weapons for just simply asking that someone wear a mask.

“I have seen more random acts of kindness, such as a person offering to help pay for the customer ahead of them in line, than prior to the pandemic,” said Stephanie. “I know that some understand that we are all in this together.”

Stephanie has family members and friends who have won the battle against COVID-19 infection. She has lost friends to the virus and she herself has had three negative COVID tests.

“But then a coworker who has worked alongside of me will get it and I just wonder if my time for contracting COVID-19 just hasn’t come…yet,” she said.

Thank you, Stephanie for your courage, sacrifice and commitment to helping others. May you remain safe and healthy as we say goodbye to 2020 and look forward to a better 2021.