Geneva chamber honors police, fire, teachers, hospital with annual community-service award

  • COVID-19 survivor Michael Herbert, with his wife, Heidi, right, visits with Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital ICU staff members after delivering food as a way of saying "thank you" for their care. He was at the Geneva hospital for for two weeks and spent six days on a ventilator. The hospital shares this year's Wood Commuity Service award with the Geneva police and fire departments and Geneva Unit District 304.

      COVID-19 survivor Michael Herbert, with his wife, Heidi, right, visits with Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital ICU staff members after delivering food as a way of saying "thank you" for their care. He was at the Geneva hospital for for two weeks and spent six days on a ventilator. The hospital shares this year's Wood Commuity Service award with the Geneva police and fire departments and Geneva Unit District 304. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, April 27

 
 
Updated 11/13/2020 4:15 PM

For what they have done to help people in the time of COVID-19 to help people, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce Thursday gave its annual Wood Community Service award not to a single person, or a couple, but to essential and front-line workers.

The award was given to the Geneva police and fire departments, the Geneva school district, and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.

 

"The Wood Award means a lot of to us because it was originally established to honor the spirit of giving back to the community," said chamber Chairman Scott Lebin, the host of the online ceremony. He said the chamber has often spoken in years past about heroes. "We have extended the meaning this year so the award meets our unique 2020 experience."

Police Chief Eric Passarelli and Fire Chief Michael Antenore spoke of the challenges their departments, and other city departments, faced this year. They also spoke gratefully for the support the community has shown their workers throughout the year with what Antenore called "heartwarming, morale-boosting" signs, cards, donations of cleaning supplies, meals and more.

"We believe that Geneva's collective community can rise to the occasion (of fighting COVID-19)," Antenore said.

School Superintendent Kent Mutchler gave credit to the district's workers. "The Geneva 304 staff have stepped up, reinvented their roles, and demonstrated their commitment to our students and their success," he said. He also praised the students and the parents.

Troy Meister, clinical director of critical care at Delnor, said the nurses there "took it (the pandemic) on as a challenge. It's been a wonderful, collaborative effort.

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"What has really stood out is just the resiliency and teamwork throughout the entire hospital."

Grant Langbauer, the hospitals' environmental services director, read a review an inpatient had submitted to the hospital. The patient spoke of a worker, clothed head to foot in protective gear, coming in to her room, kindly greeting her by name, smiling at her and asking how she was feeling.

The patient assumed the worker was there to give a treatment or draw blood. It turned out to be a housekeeper. The worker's kindness deeply touched the patient, who was not allowed to have visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"She remembered my name. She knew my name," the patient marveled in her note.

"As we meet tonight, right now, they (essential workers) are risking their lives for us," Lebin said.

The award is usually presented to a person who has made significant community contributions in business, education, youth involvement, civic organizations, art, recreation, charity or government.

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