Elected officials encourage community to thank frontline workers

City, county and school leaders say it's time to show added appreciation for people who continue active COVID responses.

Hearts Screen Grab.JPG
An online video features, from left, Olmsted County commissioners Sheila Kiscaden, Stephanie Podulke, Rochester Mayor Kim Norton and Rochester School Board Chairwoman Jean Marvin, asking for community support in thanking frontline workers after two years of COVID-19 response efforts.
YouTube video screen grab

ROCHESTER — A group of local elected leaders are seeking to send a message

“Let’s show a little love and appreciation for all of our frontline workers,” Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden said in a video released by the county. “Let’s have a community heart response.”

Kiscaden, who was joined by Commissioner Stephanie Podulke, Rochester Mayor Kim Norton and Rochester School Board Chairwoman Jean Marvin, said the video stems from looking for a way to observe the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has entered its second year.

“Two years ago when this started, we were shocked but also motivated, and we rallied as a community,” she said. “But now it is two whole years later and those who have been on the frontlines for two years have borne the brunt of the many demands and stressors and the uncertainty of COVID.”

Marvin agreed the two years have taken a toll.


“At the beginning of the spread, there was a real effort to remain mindful and thankful of all those workers who kept on working to provide vital services for others,” she said. “Those same folks are still in the trenches, often putting in hours of overtime in really challenging conditions, but I think that at this point, too many of us have forgotten to say thank you.”

The video specifically recognizes police and other first responders, school staff and medical and public health workers.

Norton said everyone continuing to provide important services needs to be reminded the community appreciates their efforts.

“The system is stretched thin, folks are tired, and there’s a way yet to go,” she said. “I’ve heard of some bad behavior in ERs and out in the community where folks that don’t believe in COVID, or vaccines or masking, are making things even more difficult and unsafe for our frontline workers.”

Podulke said it adds to the stress for people who continue to work to protect others.

“Imagine that our health care workers go through most of these emotions every day, and yet they persist in helping those who would not help themselves or protect others,” she said.

The video was posted online last week as Olmsted County had a reported 3,457 new COVID-19 cases in a seven-day period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kiscaden said she’s already heard that the elected officials’ push to offer support is spreading in the community and elsewhere, following the creation of the video.


“With social media, you never know where it is going to go,” she said, noting Podulke had received a call from someone in New York State interested in the effort.

In addition to putting cutout hearts in windows, the elected officials suggested finding ways to thank health care workers, teachers, first responders and others that continue difficult work.

"When the pandemic first started, I was baking and buying muffins, cake, bars and fruit for the public health and emergency response Emergency Operations Center,” Kiscaden said. “It has been months since I did that, but I am planning to do it again.”

Others suggested sending thank you notes or taking time to say “thank you” in person.

“All those on the front lines need to be honored and thanked, to be told that we see what they are doing and are grateful for it,” Podulke said.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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