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During the COVID-19 crisis, much has been made of the heroic efforts of first responders, doctors and nurses. Deservedly so.

This is an unprecedented crisis in our lifetimes and many of our fellow citizens have stepped forward to help their communities.

But there are unsung heroes we haven’t heard much about: the ones working in our senior care facilities. These selfless people give their hearts and risk their own health (and that of their families) for the most fragile and vulnerable to COVID-19. They include nurses, of course.

The largest group are the nursing assistants who are in and out of the residents’ rooms and apartments, helping them with all the necessities of life, like dressing and bathing and eating, and all the other daily activities we take for granted when we are younger and able and well.

And then there are the housekeepers who clean the resident living spaces, the maintenance staff who repair and maintain the buildings and grounds so they are safe and comfortable, the folks who launder the clothes and linens, the kitchen staff who prepare and serve the food every day, the recreation staff who help find interesting things for residents to do while they themselves must maintain social distancing.

They include the social services staff, who work with the families to help keep up the communication with their residents even though they can’t hold their hands or give them hugs.

They include the chaplains who bring the word of God and the comfort of Christ to the residents. They include the staff in the office who do the bookkeeping and payroll and keep the business functioning and keep the human resource systems functioning, and the ones who keep up with the daunting task of ordering supplies and PPE.

They include the administrators, CEOs and board members who lead the organizations, keeping up with the state and federal requirements and communications and keep everyone focused on the mission of care.

Full disclosure: I was an administrator at Auburn Homes and Services before I retired seven years ago, and I have been an occasional volunteer for the past few years. I know from personal experience the dedication and loving hearts of these people, not only at Auburn, but at all the facilities here in Carver County and throughout Minnesota.

As of this writing, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in the Auburn facilities, according to the weekly communication from the volunteer coordinator and the community outreach manager. They keep the families and volunteers updated with the latest information about what the residents are doing and what the needs are for donated items.

These fellow citizens are working hard for our seniors, our community, our country. Let’s thank and support these unsung heroes, especially now in May, Older Americans Month.

Wayne Ward is a Chaska resident.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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