While many are hunkered down at home, avoiding the public for each other’s benefit, there are a few who bravely risk exposure every day to serve our community. From the hospital employees providing care to the sick, the delivery drivers hauling supplies to the Island, the grocery store employees stocking the shelves, the school cafeteria workers and pantry volunteers providing meals for our vulnerable families — these are among the hundreds of people serving as critical lifelines for our community. Their efforts speak volumes for their character and dedication, and their acts of compassion and generosity serve as a silver lining amid a crisis we will never forget. I am compelled to capture them in their selfless moments of service, to share their stories and highlight their efforts, and to give a voice to these ‘Faces from the Front Line.’
Today Tara Lewis, the Postmaster of West Tisbury, finds herself on the frontlines of a global pandemic. Mail delivery has always been essential to our Island community, but Tara’s work, and those of all postal employees, has become more important than ever.
“People need to get their medicine and salary checks,” she told me. “On this Island, it is difficult to get goods because most of the stores are closed so people really depend on the mail for delivery.”
Tara’s everyday efforts have been amplified by increased demands on the mail system along with added concerns about keeping her facility safe and clean while adhering to CDC and government guidelines. Now, this Everyday Hero is twice as busy cleaning things she never thought about cleaning before — pens, staplers, tape, doorknobs, and basically anything and everything that comes in contact with people. She is constantly using hospital-grade disinfectant to spray down the mailboxes, and other surfaces, and expects at least another month of these heightened practices. “I’m just happy to be getting people what they need.”
Randi Baird has been working as a professional photographer for three decades, and before moving to Martha’s Vineyard in 1995, worked as a photojournalist for Greenpeace. She is a visual storyteller, and her photographs serve as a means of communication, educating, and enacting social change. She is a regular contributor to magazines and journals on and off island, has produced photography for three cookbooks and is a founding member of Island Grown Initiative, a non profit organization dedicated to building a regenerative, equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard. You can reach her at 508.505.5909; Randibaird.com