GENEVA, Ohio — It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and they say to truly experience the joy of the holidays with a gift that keeps on giving -- and that’s exactly what Giant Eagle did when they created the Great Neighbor Awards.
The public was able to nominate the heroes of their community who made a huge impact throughout the pandemic. They encouraged folks to nominate healthcare heroes, essential workers and all-around great neighbors for a special surprise of $500 in free groceries.
James Santiago of Geneva nominated 42-year Geneva paramedic and administrator Vincent T. Gildone. In his nomination, James wrote:
“Vince has gone above and beyond to ensure that all precautions are taken on every Ambulance call his crews respond to! He also reached out to several elderly people on a weekly basis to ensure that they are doing ok! For some it is sometimes the only person they talk to! Vince has always gone above and beyond the call of duty!”
"I’m elated that he won because there is no one more deserving than him in our community," Santiago said. "You don’t worry because he makes sure his staff is well-trained and you have a piece of mind knowing he’s there doing his job for us."
Gildone is the Administrator and a paramedic with Northwest Ambulance District. He's spent more than four decades devoted to helping others with his career. He says that during the pandemic, it's a job that's required even more dedication. He hasn't taken more than two days off since April.
"I understand that even more people received the award and that makes it even greater they’re giving bac to the community," Gildone said. "It’s a tremendous gift Giant Eagle is giving out. ... This can get depressing and stressful, and made me reflect on how I could have retired but I still am healthy, and I love my job and love what I do," he said.
We had an extra special surprise still in store. An opportunity for Gildone to pay it forward, again, by offering an additional $500 in groceries to one of his colleagues. He chose fellow paramedic Rory Shaw.
"He’s a good cook and one of our best employees," Gildone said. "He has a big family and this would be a huge benefit for him."
Now that’s an extra dose of holiday cheer.