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Diligent workers continue to serve: Orangeburg County Community of Character recognizes efforts
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Diligent workers continue to serve: Orangeburg County Community of Character recognizes efforts

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Everyone seems to be lending a helping hand amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has failed to cripple the spirit and service of workers ranging from truck drivers and teachers to farmers and firefighters.

Individuals in a number of fields have all helped to inform, educate, feed and uplift their communities in a time of massive need.

There are far too many critical service providers to name, but that in no way diminishes the impact that everyone has made during this time.

It is their careful and persistent work that led the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative to honor them for diligence.

"Our mission is to inspire, motivate and recognize outstanding character. Here we are with so many who are selflessly and diligently serving others. It just seemed a no-brainer to recognize all of these individuals for what they do," OCCOC Executive Director Evelyn Disher said.

Nurses and doctors are perhaps the more obvious members of the army of service workers helping to pull their communities through the coronavirus pandemic, but there are also the gas station attendants, public utility workers, postal employees and care givers who are among the many others providing needed services.

Disher said everyone's service has not gone unnoticed.

"There's just so many. It's an unprecedented time, and we certainly value the role models that are showing us the definition of diligence. Diligence is providing constant effort and care to accomplish whatever is needed, and people who are doing that are the definition of diligence," she said.

Disher added, "We're living right now in an unprecedented time. It's time to kind of pause and say, 'Wait a minute. We'd be remiss if we tried to single out one individual, when we have so many who are so diligently providing ongoing services at risk.’

“That's pretty much the key. Let's pause, recognize and acknowledge them for doing that."

Orangeburg County Emergency Services Director Billy Staley said he appreciates the honor.

"I'm very honored and pleased with the support that I'm getting from the community. We have a bunch of very dedicated responders across the county, both local and paid. The bulk of our force is volunteer in the county, and they're still on the front line doing what they need to be doing," Staley said.

"We appreciate everything that they're doing and we're honored that we're being supported in this way. We're very honored and we value the support from the community. We couldn't do what we do without the support of the community," he said.

Jermaine Brooks, a four-year employee with the City of Orangeburg's Parks and Recreation Department, said he was delighted to be recognized for the work he and others in his department perform.

"It feels great. I feel good about it. It's a good thing knowing someone is taking notice of your work. I like that," Brooks said.

Dr. Caroline Gadson, a science teacher at North Middle/High School, said, "In these challenging times, it means a lot to be recognized for the dedication and hard work that is being put into making sure our students continue their learning from home."

"As teachers, we have always been able to adapt to changing circumstances in the educational arena, particularly in the classroom. So as we deal with this new normal, it is extremely important for me to put forth every effort into doing what is expected to meet the educational needs of my students," she said.

While the coronavirus has forced the closures of schools, Gadson said teachers have done an "amazing job" collaborating with each other to provide the best online instruction possible.

"They are using various platforms to share ideas and collaborate regarding educational websites and programs to enhance students’ learning experiences. The level of commitment, dedication, hard work and persistence has been phenomenal on every level to ensure that our students have what they need to continue their education at home," she said.

Gadson said she also appreciates the work the Community of Character initiative has done.

"The work is very important. Recognizing individuals who exhibit the different character traits each month is a great way to inspire and motivate others and make our community a great place to live," she said.

Registered nurse Cindy Goodroe, director of the Free Medical Clinic in Orangeburg, said working in the medical field is fulfilling.

"We obviously want to help people, and we're very willing to help people. These times have got us all pretty scared but, at the same time, we know that people need a source to turn to," Goodroe said.

"Diligence is a good way to put what we're doing right now. We are always on the front line helping people, mainly because many of them don't have anywhere else to turn to. The reason I got into it is I just like helping people," she said.

Goodroe said while many in the medical field are often risking their own lives to help others, that is not usually the first thought in their minds.

"Even though that's in the back of our minds, that's not really the first thought that we have. We just want to do what we can to get people healthy and keep them healthy," she said.

Dr. Danette McAlhaney, a family physician, said, "We appreciate the honor. We're sorry we're going through this situation, but we feel like it's our duty to stay open and be available to patients. We feel like our patients need us at this time. So we need to be there for them."

She said providing a safe environment is critical for patients to receive services and staff to perform their jobs.

"We're also providing the telemedicine services. ... We're not seeing as many patients as we used to, obviously, but we are staying relatively steady between answering phone calls, calling in prescriptions for patients, seeing the patients and doing all that. We've been working sometimes with less staff, but we're still keeping the doors open just trying to take care of the patients," McAlhaney said.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD.

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