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How you can help these 'unsung heroes' during coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 11:03 AM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 11:43:36-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Working from home and caring for the kids out of school is a balancing act. So many don’t have the option of staying home.

Doctors, nurses, EMTs are some whose work isn’t going unnoticed. It’s evidenced by anonymous notes scribbled lovingly around one VCU Medical Center parking deck.

There are so many people on the front lines taking care of those who need it most. They are hidden heroes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“365 days a year, 24 hours a day--regardless of what’s going on in the world,” said Lisa Morgan, COO of Lutheran Family Services of VA.

Her agency has hundreds of workers across the state on the front lines as well. They offer support services and compassionate care for those with intellectual and developmental needs.

“They help adults in our group homes with things like self-care. From preparing meals, to helping them get dressed and just doing things with them all day long,” Morgan added.

To her, the Direct Support Professionals serving three hundred adult clients in group homes and other family home settings are hidden heroes.

“They are definitely the life blood of any organization that assists people with disabilities. They don’t have a choice. They can’t work from home, like so many. They have to go to work. Our staff is unwavering,” Morgan said.

Nick Mayhew, a DSP with Lutheran Family Services of Virginia loves his job assisting adults with disabilities in a LFSVA group home.

“You grow a connection and they do become like a second family. The personal connection is everything. Every day when I walk in, there’s one guy who just smiles. He just lights up and it gets to you,” Mayhew said.

In his five years working with the agency, he has learned that for his clients, having a routine is key. These days, with COVID-19 gripping the community, his clients’ volunteer and day programs are shut down and it has been challenging.

"Every morning they ask if they can go to work. This has completely thrown them. It has been more than two weeks that they can’t do the things they normally do. They keep trying to get back to the routine they’ve had for years and years,” Mayhew added.

It’s a frustration he wishes he could erase for the clients that he serves—ones he considers more like family.

Morgan says since the DSPs must go into the group and family home settings, they are keeping safe by wearing gloves, masks and other protective gear.

But, just like many other agencies, supplies are dwindling. She says they would welcome any personal protective equipment donations.

For more information on how you can help Lutheran Family Services of VA, contact them at 804-288-0122 or click here.