Each year The Suncoast Post tries to find a person that exemplifies everything great about living here on the Suncoast. By awarding the Making a Difference plaque and special recognition, this person who has been a hero for a cause, a way of life, and amazing history of resilience, care, and giving back is allowed a moment to shine. In trying to find a person to bestow this honor on for 2020, the Suncoast Post staff realized that COVID-19 and the sheer grit of having survived and thrived despite the most trying year had made all of Sarasota and Manatee county’s residents award-worthy. For that reason, this year, the Making a Difference award goes to everyone in our two amazing counties.
To the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel who became heroes at fighting a horrible enemy. The pandemic saw many of them isolated from family, treating unprecedented volumes of critical and dying patients. They did not have vaccines to protect themselves, only what protective gear was available, due diligence, and their training to rely on. Yet, they remained at the forefront fighting alongside patients and even stepping in when other families could not comfort those sickest in our communities.
To the Teachers who we all know have long been the best of heroes for generations of us. They teach us what we must know to forge identities, careers, and futures for ourselves despite significant challenges in pay, expectations, and funding for various aspects of their work. In 2020, they were challenged to continue this amazing tradition while never meeting children in person. They attempted each day to engage isolated kids suffering from loneliness, distractedness, and frustrations of learning technology to continue engagements.
To the parents who had to learn a lot more about online platforms for work as they were sent to home offices for the first time. They worked, lived, and now had to learn how to teach their children from home alongside virtual teachers. Many had to provide birthdays, holidays, and special occasions while not eating out, shop in person, nor having group meetings for the greater part of the year. Patience was a virtue that so many did not have before but was honed razor-sharp by 2020.
To the religious leaders, therapists, and other mental health professionals who kept the spirits, minds, and hearts of a population buoyed – again while not interacting in person. Virtual events became a reality. Online therapy and social gatherings from the arts to the church were quickly organized and continue to this day in several non-contact methods. When the human spirit is challenged, so many rose to meet the need in ways that no one could have imagined before.
To volunteers who as job loss, food insecurities, homelessness, and other direct results of the pandemic started to rear their ugly heads – foundations, nonprofits, and other organizations went to work. Socially distancing, people got fed, warmed, and services located to keep those in our population most in need cared for. The record need from 2020 overwhelmed, but agencies found new partnerships, ways to fundraise, and continued to try and meet the need as it rose.
To those who work in restaurants, drug stores, and grocery outlets, starting online ordering, contactless delivery, and brainstorming continue to provide us needs in the most trying times. Innovative new ideas have now reshaped our expectations and the way we probably will shop for the future. Shortages of critical items strained temperaments and our normal ways of obtaining the things we want, and these workers were the front line for many of these outbursts. They continued to work diligently to get items back on shelves and into our hands despite quarantine and other isolating directives.
Finally, you. Absolutely! You were critical to surviving 2020 and deserve a Making a Difference award for certain. Did you pick up the phone or Zoom to stay in contact with someone you knew who could use a little pick me up? Deliver food, clothing, or other necessities to someone that needed it? You kept your spirits up and did your part in socially distancing, staying away from the big groups, and mask-wearing to stop the disease’s spread in some way. Did you volunteer or donate to an organization to help others? The fact that all came through stronger and ready to take on new challenges makes everyone in Manatee and Sarasota worthy of an award. Here is the Suncoast residents of these communities surviving, thriving, and giving everything and more in 2020 – now bring on an amazing 2021! Let’s see how much better our communities can get moving forward!
Editors Note– Due to Covid19 restrictions we were not able to present the award at a large gathering. We have asked 2 special ladies to accept the award for all of the people mentioned above. Sharon Hoatland is the Marketing Director and Kathy Nunnally is the Sales Manager at Visit A Paradise Realty with offices in Ellenton and Homes Beach. The plaque they are holding in the photo will be on display in the Holmes Beach office. Thank you to 2 fine ladies.
Photos from The Suncoast Post