OHIO, USA — 90-year-old Helen Longville, originally from Akron, entered 2020 wishing the world a happy new year. She was surrounded on every side by a little more than 50 family members who gathered the Sunday after Christmas to visit their matriarch at the Regina Health Center in Richfield.
It was Helen’s last big family celebration before she passed away in February, leaving her enormous family and legacy behind.
“We started this huge Longville group message when our grandma passed just to help organize things and to keep in touch,” says Michaela Longville, one of Helen’s youngest granddaughters.
After sharing messages about their work, a family revelation emerged.
“Wow we really do have so many people in the medical field."
They sure do. Twelve of Helen's children, grandchildren or their spouses are frontline workers in the COVID-19 crisis. The roster includes: Five nurses, three occupational or respiratory therapists, an anesthesiologist, a pharmacist and two firefighters
“We all love it,” says Allie Kendig, another one of Helen’s granddaughters, who has been serving as a nurse for two and half years.
The love family members have for their jobs is rooted in a belief Helen and her husband, Regis, taught their 10 children, which was passed on to their 25 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. It’s the belief that helping others is just as important as family.
“Mom was a homemaker, and dad mostly worked for General Tire selling truck tires,” says Donna Longville, one of Helen and Regis’ eight daughters. “They were active in our church and helped many neighbors. Being kind, honest and helpful was something they taught us, but more importantly they showed us.”
It's no wonder granddaughter Allie is now a nurse in one of Cleveland Clinic’s ICUs, caring for patients with COVID-19.
"It’s very rewarding,” she says. “However, it could be very stressful at times. You're always thinking about the COVID-19 virus … It's tough not bringing home what we experience on a day to day basis.”
That’s where family comes in. The Longvilles have made it a point to encourage each other through these tough times. They surprised Donna, who is a respiratory therapist, with a song and homemade poster as she returned home from work. They consider her a warrior and a hero during this pandemic.
“They're all really good role models for me,” Kendig says. “I think that had a lot to do with who I wanted to be and why I wanted to be that type of person.”
Carrying out the Longville legacy of commitment to loved ones.
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