BeaverCountian.com is telling our county’s stories of personal sacrifice and need as we combat the coronavirus pandemic together.
Today, stories from a North Sewickley Township mother and sister; an Aliquippa business employee; a Beaver-to-Rochester connection; the Beaver County Humane Society; and a New Sewickley Township pet hotel and salon.
by BeaverCountian.com contributing editor Lori Boone and publisher John Paul
NORTH SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP
Shelly Stiger needed an outlet and said she couldn’t cry. The North Sewickley Township resident lost her job last week at Youngblood Paving in Wampum. So she responded to BeaverCountian.com’s request to share her story. This is what she wrote:
How am I? I’ve been better. I’m anxious and scared. Praying this ends without me getting hurt.
So what am I doing? Disinfecting … I got laid off Wednesday. In total agreement that my “non-essential” ass stay home and clean to protect my son that is still working and running in and out my door.
I make him shower as soon as he walks in and his clothes go in the wash. I’m constantly doing laundry. Our hands are raw from washing them and covered with eczema from bleach and alcohol. Frustrated because I can’t find hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes to make my chores simpler. I know all too well the hospital needs those supplies. So in other words, I’m selfish.
This last week has been about protecting my family and my home. I’m worried about my parents in their 70s. My mom still works at the Dollar Tree. Worried about my brother with COPD. As of today he is struggling to breathe. I left my home to get a prescription for him today. Ding-dong ditch, and I watched from my car on the street to see that he got it.
He looked better than he sounded. Praying to God he recovers just by resting and taking meds. This germophobic woman is living in fear not faith. And I certainly feel I am not helping others. I’m an admin, not a doctor, or a nurse that risks their lives every day. All I can do is pray for the people who are serving and beg God to spare my family infection.
I watched two online worship services today. I order takeout from a local restaurant once in a while. I have to be careful with my money. And I keep my butt at home cleaning, not spreading the germs. I feel out of control. Disinfecting my house is all the control I feel I have, and is that enough to stop my family from being infected?
By the grace of God it will be. I see cars going by, and people shoulder to shoulder walking their dogs. I see people post photos on social media of them not 6 feet apart. I watched spring breakers in Florida in horror. I saw a map of the U.S. that shows the center of our nation not practicing social distancing. Is that flattening the curve, I asked myself.
I thought one nation, working together, simultaneously, going inside would flatten … Yes, I’ve watched too much news. I have studied the cdc.gov website. Lori, I’m a mess. Maybe I’m overreacting? Maybe I need a Xanax, or a margarita!! No, a chocolate martini should do the trick. And memories of a happier time. I know I need to detox from too much non-essential media. Thanks for hearing me out.
Another reader who wanted to remain anonymous because of work concerns said employees at Versatex Building Products in Aliquippa are concerned they’re still working.
The company makes PVC trim options for use in construction.
“They are not closing saying they fall under plastic therefore life sustaining,” the person wrote and claimed there are large call-offs from workers, including new fathers afraid to risk their babies’ health.
A call to Versatex was personally answered this morning and a message was taken, but there has been no immediate response. BeaverCountian.com will update this if the company would like to comment.
BEAVER AND ROCHESTER
County Treasurer Sandie Egley sat in her Beaver home Sunday watching as granddaughter Emery took her first step.
Emery Rose Jordan, who just turned one on March 5, put one foot in front of the other and reached out for her grandmother.
But Emery wasn’t in Beaver with Sandie as she took that step, she was at home in Rochester with her mother Casie.
“I made the decision two weeks ago that I wouldn’t be seeing them in person. We have been connecting on Facetime, she’s been crawling to the phone to see me,” Sandie said. “My daughter didn’t want to tell me until I saw it for myself. Today she took her first steps towards me, but I didn’t get to be there to catch her.”
Sandie said she is thankful for the women and men who are out in the community doing vital work, like providing emergency medical services or patrolling the streets to keep them safe.
“There are a lot of brave people taking brave steps and I appreciate everything people are doing so much. But for the rest of us, our biggest job is just to stay home.”
Local, state, and federal officials are hoping social distancing will help to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infections and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
Sandie has been staying home but for one notable exception, she continues to work in the courthouse each day.
“On Friday I had three employees at work in my office, normally I would have 11,” she said.
“We are working hard to get all of the taxes that have been sent in opened and processed.”
Sandie said thousands of envelopes have been opened in recent weeks. She said she averages between 250 to 400 a day just herself. “And I’m slow compared to the rest of them,” she laughed.
While many have been critical of the courthouse remaining open for county business, Sandie said the work her office is doing is vital.
“If we want to pay our vendors, and pay our employees and their health insurance, and if we want to continue providing important services to the public, we have to be able to pay for it all. We can’t pay for it if the money isn’t in the bank.”
While her daytime job is of consequence to the county, Sandie said it is the private moments at home that matter the most to her in this time of uncertainty.
“Everyone is so concerned and scared, me too. But when I see Emery, she makes everything right, she makes everything good. She’s the future.”
The Beaver County Humane Society in Center Township is considered a life-sustaining essential service, but it’s not open to the general public during this crisis.
But that doesn’t mean its animals aren’t available to be adopted or fostered. In fact, it’s more crucial than ever, executive director Susan Salyards said.
“We are hunkered down and focusing on trying to get as many animals into fostering” at least, she said. BCHS put out the call for help and last week 19 new foster “parents” stepped forward, bringing their number to 53 local foster homes. PetSmart in Cranberry Township is housing five of its animals.
Salyards urged more to help, because here’s the deal: As people get sick or worse, they’re not going to be able to care for their animals and that could easily overwhelm the facility. That would lead to euthanization.
Pet owners should be planning for backup pet care if they get sick, she said. “Make sure you have specific plans if the unthinkable happens.
“We want to be a last resort for people who don’t have the means for backup plans,” Salyards said.
Go to BeaverCountyHumaneSociety.org to see and learn about the 106 animals, including 78 cats and 25 dogs, that need “furever” homes today. You can fill out an online application to foster or adopt. A BCHS employee will call you to answer questions or to schedule an appointment.
NEW SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP
Gretchen Fieser called a long-time client today to ask if she could allow Fieser to keep a deposit for a canceled reservation.
You can use it for up to a year for any of her services at Lucky Paws Pet Resort in New Sewickley Township, its kennels, daycare, dog park, pool and training, and the grooming services when they are allowed again, she said. If it’s at all possible, it would be greatly appreciated, she added. The woman agreed.
Fieser said the business, though open and considered a life-sustaining service, is being hit hard. Her “pet hotel” had been sold out for Easter, and so far half of the reservations have been canceled.
Other regular travelers who would drop off their pets to her care are also canceling. She’s had to lay off some employees.
“But we are luckier than some businesses,” she said. “We’re very grateful to the long-time clients that are still supporting us.”
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