North Coast Hometown Heroes are volunteers, local groups


Rotarian Otis Archie did 2,921 “Pushups for Polio”, raising a dollar for each. That’s enough to pay for 4,868 vaccines.

I felt very blessed on December 13th as I dodged between torrents of rain and gusts of wind and rushed to my beautiful and warm home.

When we get there, we – and others like us who are fortunate enough to have a home to go – can breathe a deep sigh, surround ourselves with comfort and shelter from life’s storms, and lower our stressed shoulders. (when I felt harassed, my late husband accused me of wearing mine as earrings).

Especially in times of turmoil and tragedy, the home can be a safe haven that is so often improved by the care and actions of family members, friends and neighbors, first responders, utility crews and strangers from nearby towns and across the country stepping up to help, as they recently did for the people of Kentucky and central America who had no home to go to.

This is always what heroes do.

Rest assured, folks: there’s a lot of that heroism out there. Once the right people know a need, they respond to it quickly.

Friends, family, co-workers, even strangers – angels, all of them. No matter where they are, they are heroes in action, just like the people here have always been in an emergency or someone else’s day-to-day hardship.

Sadly, the awareness of this selfless goodness is often obscured by the suffocating cloak of bitterness and animosity that these days seems to have transcended politics, schools, healthcare, entire lifetimes and more.

But make no mistake about it. The purity of caring that some people have for others, of wanting to help them however they can, is still strong in the best of us.

This year’s Cambrian Hometown Hero

Last December, I highlighted some of the heroes of the North Coast hometown, among the many who regularly put their own needs aside to help others whose needs are more pressing and urgent.

They are still there, with altruism and kindness, benevolence, generosity and big smiles.

This year’s Hometown Heroes, of course, continue to show the incredible goodness of mind and self that has had such a positive effect on so many, so many times.

How about the amazing Secret Santa Claus secrets of the season including Judy and Miguel Sandoval, Mike Hanchett, Tala Romero, American Legion Auxiliary Post No. 432, Toys for Tots, University Women, SLO Food Bank and other volunteers from food awareness, and of course, our Rotarians.

The good deeds of this club are spreading to other countries as well, including the 2,921 “Pushups for Polio” sessions of Iron Man Otis Archie. In three weeks, at $ 1 each, the athletic stroke survivor, an elderly citizen, has raised donations that will pay for 4,868 vaccinations.

“Today, polio remains endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Rotarian Sue Robinson said in an interview on Dec. 15. “But it’s crucial to keep working to keep other countries polio-free. If all eradication efforts were stopped today, within 10 years polio could cripple up to 200,000 children each year. “

The 2021 North Coast Hometown Heroes roster also includes members of other clubs and nonprofits, teachers, volunteers, and individual donors.

Volunteers like Cambria’s Community Emergency Response Team and Fire Safe Focus Group, Pat Riley and Kate Novoa (also known as BigSur Kate), who also dedicate their time to holding people aware of the dangers and the good things. Organizers (like CeCe Lomeli) who helped North Coasters get vaccinated against COVID-19 in town. People and groups sponsor benefits to help families in need. First responders who show up to fight the raging emergency or to change a light bulb up high. So much more.

Dedication matters too. Think about our recent storms and the workers who have continued to work to keep us safe, clean, and supplied. Yes they are paid, but is that sufficient for some of the conditions under which they do their work… in horizontal rain and strong winds, in the cold and dark of the night… long shifts and little work? gratitude?

What about your friendly garbage collectors? Postal workers, UPS drivers and others delivering so we don’t have to leave the safety of our beloved homes? Members of the utility and road team? The first responders running to the ER while the rest of us are (wisely) doing our hold-off movements?

Friendship, caring, and willingness to help Heroes can also benefit others one or two at a time, sometimes once, sometimes continuously for years.

The Tanners’ long, long list of personal heroes for 2021 also includes many volunteer wonders, but focuses on my tribe of family and friends.

My “tribes” are loving, caring souls I can count on for a call, text or email, hug, lunch, shared laughter, or help. These are the people I can contact whenever my change of circumstances overwhelms me.

Do you have a tribe? They’re the ones who really care and show it by taking time out of their own busy days to make a call or text. To calm down when you are sad, encourage your successes and walk by your side after a tragedy. They listen when you are sad, angry, or happy. They walk your dog, bring your newspaper, and deliver chicken soup (or Ben & Jerry’s) when you’re sick.

Many others on the north coast and throughout the county are equally fortunate in having their own “tribes”. Some are not so lucky.

If you know someone who doesn’t have a tribe, maybe it’s time to help them start one? A call, a card, a plate of cookies, personal happy holiday wishes, and a willingness to help them be that way.

And isn’t this the perfect time to become a hometown hero? It can be as easy as reaching out to someone who is feeling lonely.

Thank you, Hometown Heroes, whoever and wherever you are.

I wish them and you a season filled with goodwill and laughter, the most beautiful of holidays and a new year filled with optimism, hope and happiness.

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Kathe Tanner has written about the people and places of SLO County’s North Coast since 1981, first as a columnist and then also as a journalist. Her career has included stints as a bakery owner, public relations manager, radio host, trail guide, and jewelry designer. She has lived in Cambria for over four decades, and if it happens in town, Kathe knows it.

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