KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The impact of the novel coronavirus is vast and deep across the Kansas City metro. For months, we've covered the effects on our economy, small businesses, health care, older people, first responders, educators and more. The Rebound Five is a collective of five people from both sides of the state line of different ages, races, occupations and concerns surrounding COVID-19. This is our effort to capture their unique experiences in the midst of the pandemic and navigate the challenges and triumphs they each face. We hope through their stories, you will find a piece of your own and a reminder that we are truly in this to rebound together.
Dr. Toni S. Zink
Dr. Toni S. Zink is chief medical officer for the Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. She also serves as the refugee international medicine physician and a family medicine physician. Dr. Zink also is a mother to 10-year-old Xavier and 7-year-old Naiobi.
As the coronavirus pandemic began to impact the metro, she drove her children 12 hours -- more than 700 miles -- to spend the summer with her parents as she treated patients here locally. Dr. Zink is passionate about medicine, now more than ever.
"We're all in the same boat and that's the thing. I want people to realize even in the medical field, we're human."
Erik Erazo works as the coordinator of diversity and engagement for the Olathe School District. The Army veteran was looking for a job when he landed a position working security at Olathe North High School. After going to night school and completing his master's degree, he's still with the district 17 years later.
Erazo has created several academic programs, but credits his first love as a mechanic for helping him connect with children. Now, he's building lowrider bikes with children to mentor and connect them with local police and firefighters. Erazo is dedicated to continuing the program safely despite COVID-19.
"My biggest hope is that I can get those guys in here in a safe way and that we can work on these things together and continue to have those relationships."
Asiyah Lites Rasheed, Jamaal Lites
Asiyah Lites Rasheed and Jamaal Lites owns Brown Sugar Chicken and Donuts in Kansas City, Kansas. The restaurant opened in December and is known for its wings and Wyandotte fries, along with house-made desserts, sauces and tea.
The brother and sister duo has weathered a forced closure due to the pandemic, being denied assistance through the paycheck protection program and temporarily shifting to carryout-only. Their short-term goal is to stay open for at least one year.
Asiyah: "People over profit. I think that was our main thing, especially when it first hit."
Jamaal: "In this time when there's a lot of uncertainty, there's an opportunity as well."
Shirley Mueller is a retired mother and grandmother who lives in a senior apartment community in Liberty. She has three children and six adult grandchildren who all live in the metro. Initially, the coronavirus pandemic was a source of some anxiety and brought on feelings of isolation. Now, her faith is a guiding light and source of peace during these uncertain times.
Mueller embraces technology to stay plugged in with family and friends, encourages older folks to get outside, takes care of her new plants and wants us all to laugh out loud every day.
"The biggest part is just having faith that things will get better. We have to have that hope. If you lose hope, you lose all I think."
Jason Green is the EMS Chief for the Overland Park Fire Department. He always knew he wanted to be a firefighter. In fact, Green was part of the explorers program with the fire department at 16 years old. The husband of 23 years, his wife Katy and their two daughters Grace and Claire, all contracted COVID-19.
During his stay in the hospital, Jason made a phone call to his family he believed would be his last. After 18 days on a ventilator and a few days in rehabilitation, he's home with his family and sharing his story to inspire our community to take precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"When you choose to live in a community, you have an obligation to other people in the community."
The Rebound Kansas City is our effort is to help metro residents play a role in moving our community forward. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas to via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we welcome you to join in the conversation on the Rebound KC Facebook Group.
Whether you're Getting Back to Work after a layoff, need help Making Ends Meet during these trying times or need tips on Managing the Pressure we're all feeling, The Rebound has resources to find help. We'll also make sure local leaders are Doing What's Right to get Kansas City back track after a three-month shutdown.
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