Three Larkmoor Elementary School “heroes” were honored Wednesday, September 15, 2021 by Lorain’s Meijer supercenter as "Unsung Heroes" for their efforts to help Lorain City Schools students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second-grade teacher Rona Lauricia and building cleaners Deena Lindo and Kay Chaffin were recognized as "Unsung Heroes" during a school-wide assembly by Larkmoor Principal Chantelle Lewis and Cassandra Robinson, Store Director for Meijer in Lorain.
Three Larkmoor Elementary School staff members (L-R) Kay Chaffin, Rona Lauricia and Deena Lindo hold gift baskets and gift card from Meijer, which recognized the staff members on Wednesday, September 15, 2021Each ‘hero’ received a basket of assorted treats and gifts, a certificate honoring them as an “Unsung Hero,” and a $500 Meijer gift card. In addition, the remaining Larkmoor staff members received a $25 Meijer gift card, and the grocery store, located at 5320 Leavitt Road, outfitted the staff breakroom with new Keirug coffee makers, coffee and coffee supplies.
In selecting Lauricia, Lindo and Chaffin, Lewis had nothing but praise for the trio, saying each went above and beyond during this season of COVID.
“When you think about it, our cleaners never get recognized. We often forget about the people who are intricate parts of the staff,” Lewis said. “During this season of COVID, our cleaners are our essential workers in every sense of the word. They make it possible for us to be in this building with our students every day.
“Rona Lauricia lives in Lorain. She cares about this community. She cares about the students. She is someone who is worth being called a hero because sometimes it is your silent people who go unrecognized.”
Lewis said Lauricia has been invaluable during COVID, even going as far as to personally visit students’ homes when they are out because of illness.
When asked how they felt about being called heroes — and Wednesday’s surprise recognition, which also included interviews with local media —Lauricia, Lindo and Chaffin all said it was nice, but unnecessary as they were “simply doing their jobs.”
"My co-workers and I all have responded to the challenges of teaching during COVID," Lauricia said. "I don't think any of us consider ourselves heroes. We respond to the changing needs of our students all the time because we want them to have better lives."
“Just hearing the word ‘hero’ makes you say ‘wow,’” said Deena, who has been part of the Larkmoor family for 15 years. “We are pretty much here to do our jobs and to get this honor is humbling. I think a good word to use is overwhelming.”
“It’s shocking, overwhelming to me that they think this much about us,” added Kay, who joined the Larkmoor family 6 years ago. “I love my job. I do the best I can at my job. As Ms. Lewis said ‘I am the neat one.’ That’s true. Since I started here, I said if I was going to do a job, I would do my best.”
Robinson said part of Meijer’s Core Values is fighting hunger and valuing education. As such, any work they perform in the community will align with those values. The pandemic may have slowed efforts to highlight community partners who also exhibit those values, but it did not stop the Meijer commitment to local communities, Robinson said.
“Last year, everything was virtual, but we are happy we can now return to our communities to honor those that believe in the same values we do,” she said.
Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, opened its Lorain supercenter in July 2020.