A week from today, readers will have an opportunity to get to know, through an annual special section produced by Coastal Bend Publishing, some ordinary people in their communities who are really extraordinary.
Previously known as “Hometown Heroes,” the section has undergone a name change this year to “Frontline Heroes” and finally to “Frontline Responders” in order to avoid any confusion with our military heroes, who we honor in November.
Whatever the section is called, it is still about heroes — people in our communities who dedicate their lives to helping others and making the world a better place in our own little corner of the universe.
Heroes don’t always wear a cape, although in blockbuster movies they often do. They can be firefighters, police officers, first responders, teachers, donors in a variety of forms and volunteers who give of their time to provide their assistance in countless ways.
They can be grocery store workers who go the extra mile, students who go out of their way to defend someone being bullied or who simply welcome and befriend someone being excluded, or a child who donates things to help brighten the lives of other children. There are countless ways in which people act heroically, and often that goes unnoticed, but certainly not always.
I was fortunate to recently interview a local fire chief — Lee Riemenschneider of Woodsboro — and the director of Refugio County’s Elderly Services, Debbie Sternadel; both of these individuals go out of their way to help their communities.
Chief Riemenschneider has been on the job for 58 years and has worked with many other like-minded community servants to help keep the area safe and secure and to respond to events in which their help is desperately needed.
Sternadel has been on the job for about a year, but she also is part of a fantastic team that looks out for the area’s senior citizens. They ensure that the seniors have meals delivered to their door on a regular basis if they need that service or help provide transportation to medical appointments.
These are just two examples of people stepping forward to help make things better. All too often, the media (whether social media or traditional media) focuses on problems and controversy, but there are so many examples of problem-solvers and harmony-bringers who are overlooked. They are definitely deserving of the spotlight.
Our senior reporter, Paul Gonzales, who focuses primarily on San Patricio County, will write about other people in the Coastal Bend who are likewise difference-makers in their communities for this section, which should be arriving in your paper on July 16.
The good news is that you don’t have to enjoy super strength, blinding speed or the ability to command the weather — or turn back time — to make a strong positive difference in people’s lives. Each of us has the ability to make the world a better place, and whether we do that in our homes, our communities or a larger part of the world, it’s definitely something worthwhile.
Jeff Osborne is the editor of the News of San Patricio and Refugio County Press and can be reached at 361-364-1270, or at josborne@mySouTex.com.