COVID-19 Heroes, Big and Small


By Rita L. Sherwood

What a different time we have all lived in the past few weeks! Schools, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, hair and nail salons, all non-essential businesses (too many to name), and even our beautiful beaches were temporarily closed.

What was our reality in the beginning of March is no longer, and as we take the time to reflect upon our past few weeks, many heroes big and small emerge.

At DESTIN Life, we have read and appreciate all of your comments and nominations for local heroes during this unprecedented crisis. Some might stand out and come to mind more quickly, while others are “unsung” heroes, the everyday kind and might even go unnoticed.

The most obvious heroes are the brave men and women from our healthcare system. They’re on the front line of this pandemic countless hours everyday for not only days, but also weeks on end. Tirelessly caring for those affected by the virus, with some even getting infected and dying. How can we ever express our gratitude for these special people?
They’re all a gift from Heaven, that’s for sure. Hannah Gord, a COVID-19 nurse at Sacred Heart hospital says, “Our hospital has prepared us so well for this, we feel safe and have plenty of personal protection equipment (PPE). It’s sometimes hard because you don’t know what you’re going to walk into each day. But the support that our community has shown by donating lunches and dinners everyday, not only for our ER, but the entire hospital, has really helped keep our spirits up. We live in such a great community!”

Harvest House’s food pantry located at 300 Mountain Drive in Destin has continued its regular hours M-F 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and is open and available to serve our local community. To pick up much needed food and essential items, please call for assistance the day of at 850.837.2277, they will ask for some brief information. Harvest House serves our area from Destin to Miramar Beach, to Mack Bayou Rd. Call when you arrive, give them your name; they will open the cable gate, and place your groceries on a parking lot table. You load your own groceries, and then drive away. Executive Director Lori Joyner says, “We live in such an amazing community that rallies through any crisis, whether it’s the oil spill, or now the COVID-19 virus, that generously provides help and donations in every single situation, and I’d like to personally thank everyone.” Lori says to please “like” their Facebook page so you can access more information updated daily re: other local organizations who can also donate food and other items. Monetary donations are still needed through or by mail. The website has a shopping cart of items needed which is updated weekly.

And what about the extra curricular activities for our children that have been cancelled? One local dance instructor, Shaye Smith, also a full-time Marketing Manager, has hopped on the virtual train by teaching her students online dance classes from her garage every week. Shaye says, “When Verve Dance Company first took our dance program online, I was worried that students wouldn’t connect, show up, or try. But just the opposite has happened. Class numbers have stayed consistent, and students are working harder than ever. They’re learning and growing and seizing opportunities they might not have had if classes weren’t virtual.” Shaye laments that she can’t wait to hug her kids and give them high fives when classes resume in person. But for now, she will keep challenging them online. I’m sure as parents we can agree Shaye is a hero!

Even moms are getting into the act. Just when you thought being mom is the hardest but most rewarding job, now we’re educators as well by teaching and helping our children online by virtual home schooling. If you’ve never had an appreciation for our teachers before, I’m sure you do now! Adrianne Brackett, owner of Pure & Couture Hair Salon, says it’s definitely a challenge teaching her advanced 12-year-old middle schooler and her 7-year-old on a daily basis. She says, “I really appreciate our teachers and all they do. I’m impressed by how the schools got the online platform up and running so quickly, and how students retrieve and turn in their assignments. I’m amazed at the pure scope of what my son is learning in advanced math and how challenging it is. Emerald Coast Middle School teachers have created more of a high school type course, instead of a middle school course.” Adrianne says it’s been interesting to still have projects going on at the salon, whether it’s been cleaning or organizing, while still conducting online school with her two children. She also says they’ve stayed busy by offering curbside pickup for all of their hair products. Just call ahead to order at 850.424.3935.

There’s too little time, any too many local heroes to mention. Come back next month and check out the next edition of DESTIN Life and the many more local heroes who make our community here in Destin the absolute BEST!!

Destin Life’s “Hometown Heroes” are sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Emerald Coast. To find out if you qualify for cash back rewards, call 850.837.8880 or visit