South San Francisco, CA April 30, 2020 by Mel Ellison
The pandemic that has swept over our world has changed everything, even down to the simple meaning of common words….like “hero” for example. We certainly no longer think of an overpaid sports star, entertainer, or actor when that word is mentioned.
It’s been 11 years since Capt. Sully Sullenberger safely landed his stricken aircraft in the Hudson River and redefined in the nation’s zeitgeist what it really means to be a hero. He was just a regular guy doing his job with heroic results. And now with the pandemic and it’s consequences, we’ve come to see more than ever before that regular folks just doing their jobs are the real heroes….healthcare workers, grocery clerks, truck drivers, agricultural workers and so many others.
Face masks for SSFPD made by Kathy have been greatly appreciated
But there is another even less recognized and appreciated group of quiet heroes. These are the people who are forced to Shelter-In-Place but just can’t sit and do nothing while others are in need. One such person is Kathy Yoschak Hoffman, a Customer Service Manager for Cal Water’s Bay Shore District. Recently ESC was told that Kathy has “….gone above and beyond for her fellow essential workers by making face masks for the South City Police Department with the assistance of the South San Francisco’s Women’s Club.” I wondered how this all came about and this is what I learned:
A few years ago Kathy and her husband bought a home in Cameron Park near Sacramento, a long three hour drive from SSF. Since then, she has stayed at her mother’s during the week and then commuting home on weekends. “Once the Shelter-In-Place went into effect, we felt it was best that I stay in the Bay Area with my mom knowing this would only be temporary. Also, my husband has asthma and we didn’t want to run anymore risks than necessary being that I’m part of an essential work force.” said Kathy.
Faced with a lot of free time on the weekends and wanting to do something to help, she started making face masks for family and friends. Very soon the project took off in way she had never imagined.
Kathy had gotten to know SSF Mayor Richard Garbarino’s wife Elaine through their mutual membership in the South San Francisco Women’s Club and, “…when she found out I was making face masks for family and friends, she asked if I could assist in making some for the SSF Police Department.”
After she agreed to help, says Kathy, “Elaine reached out to the SSF Women’s Club President to solicit other members to volunteer to help with making the masks.” Five other members answered the call and have assisted with the project. A most positive, productive and gratifying result for what began as a simple favor to family and friends.
As Kathy says, “I just wanted to do something to help. This wasn’t a big project but it was something I could do to give back to our community, no matter how small it may have been. After all, our first responders need to be protected so they can continue to protect us.”
For Kathy, the thought of receiving accolades and special recognition was never a consideration. She had the time and the desire to do something and she found a way. It’s really all most of us can do right now. As tennis great Arthur Ashe famously said, “Start where you are, use what you got, do what you can.”
Kathy with her husband Gary at the SSF Chamber Awards in March.
Kathy received the much deserved ‘Joe Fernekes Volunteer of the Year’ award.
In recognition of her efforts, on March 5th Kathy was awarded the 2020 Joseph A. Fernekes Volunteer of the Year by the South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, a high honor indeed! We here at ESC think she’s one very special lady and would like to let her, as well as Elaine Garbarino and the SSF Women’s Club, know just how much their efforts are appreciated…..and to simply say “thank you” for all you’re doing.
Mel Ellison is a free-lance writer and photographer who covers special features for Everything South City as well as taking the role of co-admin on our social media. Married to Lynn Brunetti, they enjoy family time with their grandchildren and enjoying their Brentwood neighborhood in South San Francisco. When not dazzling us with his photography you will find Mel on the open seas pursuing his love of sailing or creating music as he is also an accomplished musician.
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