Southeast Member Encourages Others During Pandemic
Story by Cecily Bryant
As many parts of the country sheltered in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the term “new normal” took root in everyday life. Children were home-schooled, health care was done virtually and work meetings were facilitated through Zoom and other electronic resources. So much changed so quickly. Only months ago, church members from Allegheny West Conference's Southeast church in Cleveland, Ohio, enjoyed the simple pleasure of opening doors and walking freely into a church so many consider home.
Veronica Felix is usually one of the first faces members and visitors see upon entering. She greets everyone with a cheery “Happy Sabbath” in a soothing Jamaican accent, and is always ready to hug members when distributing tithe envelopes. Felix wears many hats—wife, mother, grandmother, hospitality leader, Personal Ministries leader, communication director and deaconess. Southeast church family and friends know her as a person who can be depended on for an encouraging word, heartfelt prayer and a smile.
Known for encouraging others, Felix recently found herself in need of that same encouragement. As a resident associate working at an assisted living facility, she is responsible for patient care and is directly involved in the daily lives of seniors—members of the COVID-19 vulnerable population. As the virus suddenly swept through her facility, it brought with it confusion, fear and uncertainty.
“When COVID-19 first started, there was pandemonium in our facility. Nurses, co-workers, residents and family members—everyone was panicking,” says Felix. “As a Christian on the job, I had to remind people that God is in control. ... For the first three weeks, everyone was running scared. I had to encourage them to speak life, not death.”
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, one of the assisted living facilities shut down to contain the spread. Regretfully, four residents were impacted—two recovered and two passed away. The residents were frightened because they were on lockdown in their apartments and family members could not visit them.
Felix went the extra mile to encourage the residents by offering whatever solace she could. In addition to taking vitals and meeting their immediate needs, she stepped outside of her comfort zone.
“I became an entertainer,” she smiles. “I started to sing and dance, just to cheer them up.” Felix also helps to make phone calls so residents can see and speak to their loved ones during “window visits.” The residents write notes on big cards and hold them up for their families to read.
Felix has been in the field of patient care for 22 years, but has never seen anything like this before. Staff is working overtime testing, filling out questionnaires and taking temperatures and vitals, all in an effort to keep everyone safe. “Some days, I just don’t want to go in, but I know people are depending on me,” she says. “I have to be mentally and physically refueled to give to residents. It can be overwhelming.”
So how does someone who gives so much to others cope? Felix states, “When I get home, I also have my granddaughter to care for, but I always take an hour to recuperate and pray for God to give me strength for the next day.”
She also has a routine of juicing, drinking lots of water, getting a good night’s rest and reciting Scripture. Psalm 121 is helping her get through the storm.
Co-workers ask her how she stays grounded in the middle of chaos. “I take a blood bath every day; I’m covered by the blood [of Jesus],” she tells them. Felix tries to remember she is there to uplift, encourage and be a support to staff members and residents. When they say to her, “You are different,” Felix responds, “Christ was the greatest servant, and I am glad to be a co-laborer with Him in serving others
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