You Are Essential

April 28, 2020

By Juan Acosta

Juan Acosta, 19, is from Woodland, California. He is currently completing his last year at Woodland Community College before transferring to San Francisco State University where he plans to study Psychology. He has worked with nonprofits such as the Yolo Family Resource Center, attended multiple leadership camps, and hosted a local television show “Teens on the Move.” He is interested in research into community dynamics, coping with emotional and psychological trauma, ways to protect minority students, and how to make schools a bully free zone. In Juan’s free time he enjoys going out with friends, family, and working out.

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During these times of uncertainty, we have heard the term “essential employees.” These are parents, college students, and more who amid the pandemic are showing up to work to provide for the world. What they do is admirable, and their bravery is truly inspiring. 

As I reflect on my appreciation for many of these amazing human beings, I can’t help but reminisce about my childhood days when my parents used to work as janitors. As a teenager, I was inspired by their work ethic. Their jobs weren’t highly praised or portrayed in movies or media, but I was able to witness the heart and attention to detail that goes into it all first hand. 

Today, more than ever, I am so inspired by the janitors throughout the country doing their work every single day, up keeping so many environments clean. I spoke to Rosa, a janitor, about the work she’s been doing during this time. She mentioned that she has taken more precautions than usual doing her job, but, “Me siento muy orgullosa, y como que soy parte de la solución.” She feels pride in her work and feels as if she is part of the solution, and she is absolutely right about her being part of the solution. 

Today, I am inspired by our grocery workers. Many who are students providing great service and a smile while doing so, for many people throughout numerous communities. I asked my friend Michaylah Jones, a grocery store employee, what brings her hope during this time of uncertainty. Michaylah said that she finds hope in, “seeing the community come together.” Michaylah has been able to witness many kind acts and witness the community support one another during this turbulent time.

I asked Danny Sanchez Jr. who works at a pizzeria what he has appreciated the most from others while at work during this time. He stated, “People are understanding and patient when it comes to wait times.” However, he was really touched when “a customer took the time to ask me about how I’m coping during these trying times.” He noted that the conversation was really nice, heartfelt, and refreshing. Which, once again, ratifies what we know to be true – kindness has a ripple effect, and it is what we all appreciate and seek in one another especially during challenging times. 

While I continued to reflect, I could not help but feel extreme gratitude for all the farm workers who are planting, picking, and packing the produce we eat. Many who are fearful and feel unprotected, yet show up to their jobs out of necessity and because they know they are the backbone of our food system. Farm workers’ jobs are far from easy; it is hard labor and labor that deserves more recognition. Which is why when our Executive Director Maya provided us with an allowance to donate to the organization of our choice, I immediately thought about the farm workers who are facing many health disparities and donated to Knights Landing One Health Center. The clinic is supporting elderly farm workers with supplies and culturally sensitive healthcare services. The clinic is just a twenty-minute drive from the town I grew up in, where I was able to witness the hard work farm workers put in throughout the many seasons. 

The time we are living in is not easy. However, it has made me even more grateful for everything and everyone in my life. My mantra has always been “I am more than one moment.” For me, it implies that I am more than any moment of joy or success, and more than any moment of uncertainty or concern. It helps me realize and remember that we are all made up of so many different experiences, some good and some bad. Yet, we have endured through it all, and this too shall pass. Until then, I commend all essential workers and everyone staying at home to protect themselves and others. May kindness and the human spirit continue to lead the way for better days to come. 

To learn more about Knights Landing One Health Center or to donate, visit https://knightslandingonehealth.com/ ,and don’t forget to check them out on Instagram!

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