VIRGINIA — One thing the coronavirus pandemic did was to reveal who all the heroes in our DC and Virginia communities were. When times got tough, these people stepped up and helped feed their neighbors, marshaled PPEs, and provided care and comfort to those who were ill among us.
Patch asked its readers to nominate those in their community who were going above and beyond. Here are the 20 most memorable Local Heroes of 2020:
Susan McIntosh, a violinist with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, would probably not consider her job to be essential. But her neighbor Karen McDonald thought McIntosh was performing a service benefiting recognition. Ever since the pandemic hit and Virginians were ordered to stay at home, McIntosh has been presenting violin concerts in her driveway to raise the spirits of her neighbors.
Vienna resident Karen Bune nominated Dr. Lawrence Stein of Virginia Hospital Center. Stein is a pulmonologist who works with COVID-19 and other critically ill patients. Bune says Stein is the reason her mother Eleanor lived beyond age 100 before she died in January.
A second-grade boy from Ashburn spent his time off from school trying to come up with ideas to help front-line health care workers who are taking care of a growing number of patients sick with the new coronavirus. Zohaib Begg, 7, hit the jackpot when he began going to local hotels in the Ashburn area to see if they had any shower caps to donate to hospitals.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, Nina Parsee, a 16-year-old Yorktown High School sophomore, was committed to helping others. Last summer, Parsee began volunteering at Jubilee Jumpstart, a nonprofit learning center in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., that provides high-quality education for preschool children from low-income families.
When the pandemic started closing things down, Paula Garrison's employees were scared. The employees at Franconia-based cleaning service Maid Solution didn't want to lose their jobs that supported their children and households. But they didn't have to worry, as Garrison kept her 22 employees paid and off unemployment.
Artemis Jannesari, an ICU Nurse at Inova Fairfax Hospital, has been caring for some of the sickest COVID-19 patients. The McLean resident was nominated as a Local Hero by her friend Ashley Tseng. "My colleagues on my direct unit and all the COVID designated units have been absolutely amazing and have embraced how resilient we can be," Jannesari said. "It can really feel like you are fighting fire with fire when caring for patients with this virus."
Brenna Danatzko nominated her friend Coco Buck, who spreads her positivity around Herndon despite recently undergoing brain surgery. She helped organize a Black Lives Matter protest earlier this year and is starting a pop-up gym class for school-age children.
Jacob Brown nominated his father Keith Brown as a Patch Local Hero. Keith Brown has worked 30-plus years as a first responder in the Northern Virginia area and is currently with Manassas Probation and Parole. He has always worked a job that was convenient in raising Jacob Brown and made sure his son always came first.
Back in August, Meghan nominated her Fairfax neighbor Stacie Bicknell as a Patch Local Hero. Since the start of the quarantine in March, Stacie had sewn and sold over 400 masks for adults and kids all over the U.S. Through that, she was saving many lives and stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Herndon resident Fanny Laske-Salazar's part-time job at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority and full-time role as a mother certainly qualifies her to be an essential employee in many people's book. During the coronavirus, Fanny has not only continued to donate food to food banks in Herndon and Reston, she's also delivered food and supplies to those in the community too ill to go out on their own.
Here are the rest of the memorable Local Heroes of 2020: