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Sep 08

Recognizing the Essential Roles of Labor in Our Community

Posted on September 8, 2021 at 10:45 AM by Melinda Mayo

This week we noted Labor Day, a day set aside to acknowledge and celebrate labor.  With a renewed sense of the essential role many who labor in our community play, and as a result of COVID, it is appropriate to recognize such.

A Matter of Life and Death

This year, more so than any in recent memory, has reminded us all of the value of those that labor in our hospitals, ambulances, and nursing homes.  Nurses, doctors, paramedics, and caregivers always provide valuable services.  But, in these days of COVID, they have been called upon to perform extraordinary acts.  And to do so day after day, month after month, we should all be thankful for their labor.

Labor of Learning

Teaching is often recognized as a noble calling. Few things could be of greater value than helping prepare and educate our youth for their future and to better our community.  To say that the stresses of this labor increased these past two years would be an understatement. To comply with Stay-At-Home orders, teachers were required to provide virtual learning. Even after returning to the classroom, they were tasked with regular cleaning of desks and surfaces between classes, ensuring students wear masks, and constantly monitoring for the virus. Their added responsibility for staying attuned to the health of the children in their charge and their own health has elevated the significance of their work.  We should all be thankful for their labor.

In the Public Interest

I am very proud of City employees who have continued to provide essential services through the pandemic without interruption.  Trash has been collected and safely disposed of; 911 calls have been accepted and emergency services have continued to be dispatched; law enforcement and fire personnel have responded when residents are in their moment of greatest need; streets and storm sewers have been repaired; children and adults have been able to access books and learning materials from our libraries; our parks and greenways have provided much needed respite; and many more have worked behind-the-scenes to ensure this work could get done.  Absolutely none of this would have been possible without the commitment of the more than 1,700 City employees who work on the frontlines for the community’s behalf.  We should all be thankful for their labor.

Taking Care of the Ordinary 

Perhaps never in our past have we realized how important those people are who provide the everyday and ordinary essentials of living.  The grocery clerks, the pharmacy technicians, the delivery drivers, the bus drivers, and so many more have reminded us all just how essential the services they provide are and how often they toil in relative obscurity.  We should all be thankful for their labor.

It’s been a difficult couple of years.  Few have avoided the impacts of COVID and yet, together we all labor to respond and recover and to become more resilient to such shocks in the future.  We all should celebrate the work we do, the labor we undertake to continue to make Roanoke as strong as it can be!

-- Bob Cowell

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