The banner stretches above the employee entrance at KidsPeace Georgia’s facility in Bowdon, GA, displaying a simple, straightforward and necessary message for uncertain times:
HEROES WORK HERE
As the nation salutes its first responders, healthcare professionals and others serving the public amid the coronavirus pandemic, KidsPeace Georgia’s Residential Services Manager Gary Russell wanted to remind his colleagues at the Bowdon facility how much their efforts mean to the kids and the community they serve.
“Everyone tends to think about the work hospital staff and police officers are doing currently, but they don’t recognize how our staff are also on the front line of this situation, caring for kids with serious mental health issues who have nowhere else to go,” Russell said. “Our staff are sacrificing being with their own family and kids during a very difficult time, they aren’t paid a lot, and yet they continue to come to work every day to do a necessary job. I wanted to let them to know they’re important, too.”
So this week Russell paid for and hung the “HEROES WORK HERE” banner over the entrance, so that associates would see its sentiment each time they came in for their shifts.
“Gary never said a word to anyone about the sign,” Lou Shagawat, executive director of KidsPeace Georgia, said. “He’s an outstanding leader who has remained committed to helping children for 20 years. His thoughtful and much-needed gesture to recognize our staff speaks to his leadership during this difficult time.”
In a photo on the facility’s Facebook page, Russell (center, in red mask) joined colleagues to demonstrate the “social distancing” and masking that associates are practicing at the facility, which cares for up to 80 young people. Shagawat praised the efforts of Russell and his fellow associates in continuing to treat kids in need during the pandemic.
“As a result of our staff’s diligent efforts, as of now we have not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff or kids at our Georgia campus,” he said. “I am both grateful and humbled by our staff’s continued commitment, and by the support of a community who has ensured we have adequate PPE supplies and keeps us in their daily prayers.”
And Russell’s gesture is extending far beyond his location; KidsPeace is now planning to display his simple, straightforward “HEROES WORK HERE” message on banners at its residential treatment facilities in Pennsylvania and Maine as well.