It takes a village to keep us healthy. Day and night, quietly and without fanfare, a cast of hard working and often unrecognized souls keeps our community thriving. They do more for our health than all the hospital and physicians combined. How? They create the healthy environment where we live, work and play. A sign in one workplace sums up their contributions: “Nobody knows what we do until we don’t do it.” Without their labors, more of us would die of water borne illnesses, falling trees, crime, car accidents, fires and the list goes on. Who are these health heroes? They are the employees of our local towns, cities and counties, our public workers. They take pride in their work and work hard for all of us. This includes:
• The people who treat the water, and the ones who fix the pipes carrying clean water to you.
• The people who repair the sewer lines so dirty water does not get to you.
• The locators who can find hidden pipes, and the workers who put in valves so dirty water does not flow backwards and contaminate our clean water.
• The people who manage payments for the water bills so we have the collective resources to keep the water system running.
• The people who care for the trees and trim the branches so we have shade to protect us from the sun and cool and richer air to breathe without having limbs fall on us.
• The people who care for our local roads so we can get to where we are going without road dangers and risks to life and limb.
• The people who plan and make the signs that help protect us from crashes with other cars.
• The people who test our lake waters to be sure it won’t get us sick.
• The people who maintain our lovely lakes that give us such joy and help preserve our aquifer.
• The police officers who keep our towns safe, day and night, in good weather and bad.
• The firefighters who remain ready, 24/7, to put out flames.
• The first responders who can rescue a dying heart.
• The people who plan, develop and maintain our parks and public facilities where we gather, build community, exercise and enjoy the outdoors.
• The cemetery workers who care for the burial grounds with utmost respect for our dearly departed, helping us feel grounded and connected with who we are and who we have been.
• The auto mechanics who keep all the city trucks, cars and boats working safely.
• The people who are behind the scenes helping everyone else do their jobs: purchasing, managing human resources and risk, planning, developing resources, communicating and more.
• And to the garbage collectors, who typically are not public employees, but their work removing our trash is vital. If you don’t believe me, try visiting a community without trash pickup.
Yes, indeed, it takes a village with many roles to keep our community well, all deserving of great appreciation for their contributions. So next time you see someone in a city truck or working on the side of the road, thank him or her for keeping us healthy and making our community what it is!
Maitland resident Nancy Rudner Lugo is a nurse practitioner and president of Health Action, offering workplace health consulting and nurse coaching. Visit healthaction.biz