Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Local Heroes: People Helping People During the Coronavirus Crisis

I’ve always loved this quote from Mr. Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Coronado is full of helpers during this unprecedented time of fear and panic. We have doctors and nurses working the front lines, tending to the ill. We have kind-hearted neighbors who are willing to drop everything to pick up groceries and run errands for the high-risk among us. We have community coordinators, creating platforms to help and assist in spreading joy, ultimately boosting the spirit of those depleted in hope.

Here are just a few of many Coronado locals who are doing wonderful things to help others.

Rebecca Sauer, critical care nurse. Nominated by a local woman who wishes to remain anonymous, for sharing her expertise and helping a high-risk individual obtain a safety mask.

Rebecca Sauer
Rebecca Sauer, a critical care nurse at UCSD.

“Rebecca posted her number on Coronado Happenings for anyone who might need help, so I called her for advice,” explains the woman. “My husband has stage 4 cancer and I have respiratory issues, and my husband had to go in for lab work and an infusion at Kaiser.” The woman was very worried about her husband picking up the virus, and also bringing it back home to her. “It’s been a long journey with his illness, and my own issues coming into play in the last several months,” says the woman. “Ten minutes later, Rebecca called me with a top-of-the-line of respiratory mask with filters my husband could wear on his visit to keep him safe.”

Rebecca also helped the woman come up with a safety plan when her husband returned home, so the couple would not have to spend time apart. “I burst into tears at her efforts to help us, it’s so unbelievable and we are so grateful. She is an angel and has helped us so much with this world-wide coronavirus challenge.”

Bill Rogers, founder of Liberty Call Distilling. Nominated by John Sexton and Heather Dueitt for making and distributing hand sanitizers to those in need.

Bill Rogers
Bill Rogers, founder of Liberty Call Distilling.

“I want to give a shout out and a ‘cheers’ to Bill Rogers of Liberty Call Distilling,” says John Sexton. “He has made efforts and convinced distilleries to join him and delay production of their spirits to make and distribute hand sanitizer to agencies like the Los Angeles Police Department, the Orange County Fire Department, the Chino Hills Fire Department, sixteen Amazon fulfillment centers in California, and senior healthcare centers.”

Bill also helped a local senior in need.

“Bill has been helping donate sanitizer to Nado residents that needed it the most,” says Heather Dueitt. “He dropped some off to a friend who is caring for a 90-year-old at the Shores and ran out.”

Debra Cordell-Smith, retired Air Force veteran. Nominated by Noelani Mingo for random acts of kindness.

Debra Cordell-Smith
Debra Cordell-Smith, now a retired Air Force veteran.

“With the chaos of COVID 19, I’ve been hesitant to leave our home,” explains Noelani. “When I finally ventured out in search of groceries and toiletries, stopping at several stores over a span of three hours, I received a message from Deb checking in to see how my day was going. I explained my morning and shared that after multiple stops I failed to find any toilet paper and was headed home. Without hesitation, she offered me an 18 pack of toilet paper, refused payment, and asked if there was anything else we needed. Deb is not only an outstanding neighbor, and a caring friend, she is a disabled Air Force veteran and military spouse. Her service to our country and her kindness and generosity inspires me.”

Jay Doucet, MD, FRCSC, FACS. Nominated by Lourdes Smith Huidor, for his work fighting the COVID-19 virus in his leadership role at UC San Diego Health.

Jay Doucet
Jay Doucet, MD, FRCSC, FACS. Image courtesy of UC San Diego Health.

“I nominate Jay Doucet who is fighting this current war against the invisible enemy from the frontlines as a surgeon, educator and leader,” says Lourdes. “Dr. Doucet and his team are working around the clock caring for patients, the community, and in developing protocols and safety measures to better assist with the process.”

Maggie Pettit, local mom and Coronado Village Elementary PTO President. Nominated by Julie Dabbieri, for spreading light and cheer.

Maggie Pettit
Maggie Pettit with her family.

“The first week of quarantine, she organized a nightly 6:45pm ‘wave’ on our block,” explains Julie. “This is somewhat of a highlight for all of us, kids and adults!”

Maggie has also organized children’s chalk walks, window walks, and led other efforts helping kids spread color and happiness to their neighbors.

Rashida Cooper and her staff at the Youth Center at Lincoln Military Housing at Silver Strand. Nominated by Jennifer Moore, for caring for children of essential employees with the U.S. Navy.

“Rashida and her staff are truly unsung heroes and our partners in educating, championing, and loving many military-connected students at Silver Strand,” says Jennifer. “Many people do not know that this facility serves students TK through 12th grade before and after school (early and late hours) and including on holidays. As essential employees they have been working full-time while our schools are closed and while their parents, also essential employees, serve our country. During regular school days I am witness to a warm hand-offs between our staff and theirs before and after school….I hope that you will recognize their tremendous service to our community and nation…and the future leaders of our country!”

Dr. Wael Kouli, Plastic Surgeon. Nominated by Ian Van Tuyl, for stitching up a bad cut on the fly.

Dr. Kouli
Dr. Kouli of Esthetica San Diego.

“I broke my coffee cup and ended up cutting my hand pretty badly,” says Ian. “I knew I needed stitches, but didn’t want to visit the emergency room with everything that was going on. My wife texted Dr. Kouli and he responded within minutes, meeting us in the alley behind his offices to stitch up my hand while I sat in the passenger seat of my car. I can’t thank him enough for his care.”

Kelley Kraft Casey, social media rockstar. Nominated by Rebecca Sauer, for creating the Coronado Coronavirus Help- People Helping People Facebook page.

Kelley Kraft Casey
Photographer, writer, and social media guru Kelley Kraft Casey.

“I would like to sincerely thank Kelley Kraft Casey for starting this group,” says Rebecca Sauer. “Because of this group, a very nice lady was able to reach out to me, with serious medical concerns that put her and her husband at critical risk if infected. A neighbor, who is a contractor, provided me with an industrial grade filtration mask, that I was able to give her. This may mean the difference between them having to self-isolate apart for weeks, versus being able to stay together. This forum did that.”

Lisa Solis, singer, musician and music teacher. Nominated by Renata Escalante for spreading music and joy.

Lisa Solis
Lisa Solis teaching music class with a young student.

“I nominate Lisa Solis for her energy, her spirit and her beautiful soul,” says Renata. “She’s keeping the moms and dads and babies connected through her music through social media.”

Lisa has created a Music with Miss Lisa FaceBook Page to offer Family Music Time via Facebook Live every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10am. She hopes to inspire a musical experience between parents and their children, and incorporate how household articles can be used as instruments. No tuition or donation required!

Nick and Liz Merrill, and the trainers at Sweat Equity. Nominated by Colby Freer, for keeping morning workouts alive and connecting the community through daily Zoom group workouts.

Nick and Liz Merrill
Nick and Liz Merrill, owners of Sweat Equity Gym.

“As a full-time mortgage loan officer working remote, mom of two little creatures and running a household, you really help ‘keep the wheels on!'” says Colby. “I know there are many of us in these similar roles and I appreciate you both for your commitment to this community. I want to recognize your generosity and express my deepest appreciation! You keep my mind clear, my emotions more stable and my body from becoming total mush! Each morning I set up my workouts on my porch that faces the sunrise, pop in my ear buds, and get pumped that I get to workout with you and other fellow Sweat Equity members.”

Thanks for reading everyone. If there are any other local heroes you want to name, please do so in the comments below!


Christine Van Tuyl
Christine Van Tuylhttp://islandgirlblog.com/
Christine was born and raised in Texas, but moved to Coronado with her family as a teen in 1993. Although initially horrified by surfers, flannels and skateboards, she ultimately grew to love all things So-Cal. A graduate of UCSD, Christine got her first writing job on the KUSI ten o’clock news while simultaneously juggling a reporter position at the San Diego Community News Group. She worked as a public relations professional, a book editor, real estate professional, and a freelance writer before eventually succumbing to motherhood in 2008.A decade later, Christine resurfaced to start the Island Girl Blog, a Coronado lifestyle blog. In addition, she writes a monthly page for Crown City Magazine. Christine loves hanging out with her husband, Ian, and their two spirited daughters, Holland and Marley, who attend Village Elementary and Coronado Middle School. When she’s not working, you’ll find her practicing yoga, spilling coffee at school drop off, meeting friends for sushi, or sailing the Bay with her family and English Bulldog, Moshi. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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