Posted June 23, 2021
Walk into the first-floor lobby of the St. Augustine Towers on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway District, and you'll be greeted by the smile of Receptionist Betty Washington.
While pandemic safety measures have begun to ease and many of our employees who were working remotely are now returning to the office, Betty was one who never left.
"We thought we had the best idea for Betty: she should work from home like others," said Tom Mrosko, director of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). "Betty had a different plan."
In fact, since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Betty was adamant about staying at her post in the St. Augustine Towers, home to Catholic Charities' MRS offices.
"She firmly told everyone around her that she did not want to work from home and that someone needed to be present in the office to help refugees, immigrants and others," Mrosko said.
"Betty was fearless during the entire time of the pandemic," continued Mrosko. "She informed her managers that she felt safe working and that she needed to be here, despite the fear many had of contracting COVID-19. Betty and the managers developed a plan to keep her as safe as possible. During the last 15 months, Betty continued to be the first person in the office every day and usually the last person to leave."
Betty's decision to remain in-person was truly a blessing, as MRS continued to see walk-in clients. She directed clients, took their temperatures, and assisted individuals and families until caseworkers were able to meet with them.
"Behind the scenes, all the staff knew that they could count on Betty to be ever-present in the office," Mrosko said. "MRS staff understood that if they need to send a fax, receive one, or get something out of a file that they could call on Betty to get it done."
"Betty has a tremendous laugh and a great attitude, and her grace was an example for everyone during the difficult time," concluded Mrosko.
Thank you, Betty, for your dedication to our mission of continuing Jesus' work, especially amid the trying times of the pandemic. Your resiliency has provided help and created hope for so many in need, and we cannot thank you enough.