She couldn’t stop the pandemic’s pain and suffering, but she could encourage those helping us through our grief.

So, Princella Hotchkiss created 500 handmade cards to hearten University of Texas Medical Branch nurses who held our hands when it hurt and guided us through the darkness.

And while they couldn’t rid the world of the enemy now among us, they could help feed the troops doing battle. So, Michelle Beckwith called on clients and friends and together with the San Luis chefs fed the bellies and the souls of hundreds of health care workers and staff hungry for a hearty meal and a show of support.

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes, each with their own superpower.

I work with incredible health care heroes — from the medical personnel who move mountains to ensure our patients receive the highest level care, to the police, supply chain personnel and information technology professionals dedicated to keeping the medical branch running to continue that care. They’re all champions who’ve received much, well-deserved attention throughout this pandemic. But there are unsung heroes who need our recognition and thanks as well.

The unsung don’t consider themselves heroic. They aren’t “essential” personnel or celebrities. These heroes are our neighbors, family, church friends and co-workers who chose to raise their voices above the roar of COVID-19 to say “thank you” loud and clear to medical professionals, researchers and essential staff with a meal, a card, a gift or a prayer. The medical branch is deeply indebted to each of these everyday heroes.

To the businesses, community partners, and friends who prepared, paid for or delivered food for medical providers, transportation staff, administrators, housekeepers and researchers, we say thank you. To the hotels throughout Galveston and Brazoria counties who cut their rates and opened their doors so staff working extra-long hours could receive a good night’s sleep before they returned to work another shift, we say thank you. To the youth groups and Sunday school classes who ensured our COVID-19 clinics were well-supplied with snacks and messages of hope, we say thank you. And to the Moody and Sealy and Smith foundations, who together donated more than $10 million to accelerate research and patient care at the medical branch during the pandemic, we say thank you.

You will never know how meaningful your gestures and unselfish gifts have been. They kept us hopeful during challenging times, reminding us that we’re all in this together. I was recently sent this quote from J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit,” — “I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay ... small acts of kindness and love.”

Never will these words ring truer for me. Your kindness and love have helped all of us at the medical branch “keep the darkness at bay.” Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Please know that by working together, with you, we’re all working wonders.

Rebecca Trout Unbehagen is the executive director of community engagement at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

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(1) comment

Bailey Jones

"The unsung don’t consider themselves heroic. They aren’t “essential” personnel or celebrities."

I disagree a bit - our heroes are our most essential personnel.

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