Essential workers like emergency responders, health care professionals and grocery store employees are on the front line every day, running the risk of contracting the illness every time they clock in. Yet, they show up for every shift, trying to help the community.
Heather Silchia of Colorado grew up with parents who dedicated themselves to helping others as first responders. She knew at a young age that she wanted to follow in their footsteps and pursue a profession similar to theirs.
As an adult, Heather is the first point of contact for people in desperate, even deadly situations. As a 911 dispatcher, she’s the first voice a caller hears when begging for assistance.
“Even though we just answer the phone and we don’t respond to the call ourselves, we are the first to respond to people’s cry for help.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Heather’s job with Jefferson County has become even more demanding and stressful. She works the graveyard shift at JeffCom 911 and together with her husband, raises their three young children.
A key component of her job right now is to alert police officers, firefighters and paramedics if there is an potential coronavirus contamination at a scene they’re barreling toward.
Because she works the graveyard shift, she and her husband are like ships passing in the night. They’re taking turns caring for the children and relying on daycare to fill the void.
They’re doing the best they can in an uncertain, frightening world. So imagine how upset and hurt she was when Heather headed out the door on a Saturday night to staff the dispatch center, ready to help others, but instead found a nasty note on her windshield.
The note was written by a “concerned neighbor” and demanded that she stay home. In fact, the neighbor used all caps to try and get his or her point across.
“PLEASE STAY HOME!”
Eerily enough, the neighbor had been observing Heather’s comings and goings for some time and felt it was okay to get involved in her personal business.
“I noticed a few days a week you leave home with your baby and return a short time later without it. Then I see the man of the house arrive with the baby later in the afternoon while your vehicle hasn’t moved all day. This leads me to believe that the kid is in daycare. Stop. I am assuming that man has an essential job since he is gone all day but if you are home there is no reason for your child to be in daycare at a time like this.”
The nosy neighbor continues to berate Heather in the nasty note and accuses her of being up to no good.
“I also see you leave shortly after your husband (I assume) gets home. You aren’t wearing any sort of uniform and I have never seen you wear a mask. Bars are closed and you couldn’t possibly be getting groceries every night (which would also require you to wear a mask) so I again ask you to please stay home.”
Then the neighbor rudely judges her parenting skills and criticizes her children. It’s signed, “All your neighbors.”
“Also, do everyone in the neighborhood a favor and keep your older kids inside. They are loud. Help do your part in keeping our town safe and STOP LEAVING YOUR HOME.”
Instead of growing irate and seething with anger, Heather channeled the training she’d engaged in for her dispatcher position.
“If somebody’s having a bad day, and they’re taking it out on you, just be kind. And that’s something I have to do every day in my job.”
How crazy that a neighbor thought it would be okay to judge Heather’s schedule without knowing the facts, particularly that she’s a critical essential worker leaving her home every day to help save lives.
While many people are on edge and anxious with the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, this note left on her windshield hasn’t settled well with others. Thankfully, her children never saw it.
Watch Heather’s patient and compassionate response to what happened to her. She’s amazing!
Thank you to Heather and all the other essential workers who leave their house day after day to help others! Stay safe!
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