The Guardians. Christina Bracken

THE GUARDIANS, Celebrating the heroes who keep us safe in the battle over Coronavirus

When a crisis such as the Coronavirus pandemic strikes, a community’s strength of character is put to the test. As neighbors struggle, others step up to help. Compassionate. Diligent. Selfless.

For some -- those designated as “essential” workers -- it is their job, and they perform exceptionally. Others, however, willingly come out of the safety of self-quarantine and risk sickness to offer assistance to the community.

The response to the pandemic epitomizes what makes Key Biscayne so special. The village is composed of people who put the community before self. People from all walks of life with generous hearts who have genuine concern for their neighbors.

From making and distributing meals to the homebound, to being senior “buddies,” to volunteering at testing sites or serving in area hospitals, these folks work on our behalf – not just to keep us safe, but to keep hope alive for a brighter future.

In a Special Report, we honor just some of the community’s “guardians” for keeping us safe, fed and healthy. To them, and others who continue to step up, we say “Thank you!”

Since Monday, we have been introducing you to some of these 10-kind friends and neighbors who give of themselves to keep us safe & comfortable during this pandemic.

Christina Bracken 

Christina Bracken sat outside a grocery store in a golf cart when she answered a phone call to talk about the volunteer work she does for a 91-year-old Key Biscayne woman.

She was at the store to buy groceries for the woman as part of a program started by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation to assist senior citizens with food shopping and other errands they can’t do during the stay-at-home order, or because of other challenges.

“It’s just someone making sure they have someone checking in to make sure they are OK,” Bracken said of the program. “This started when they issued the stay-at-home order, when it became apparent that this would be a problem for people with mobility issues.”

Bracken’s senior can’t walk well and is hard of hearing.

 “It’s a real challenge to stay in touch with the outside world,” she said. “I (help) just one person. As for the risk factor … we go through a health checkup to be briefed on general safety standards, and we’re all wearing gloves and masks.”

Bracken didn’t know her senior – who she identifies by the initials CM – before volunteering her time. “The person at the foundation knew I spoke German, and they thought this would help,” she said. “I hear her sometimes speak German on the phone with her family, but I have never been able to get her response in German; it has not been necessary.

“She has been very appreciative,” Bracken continued. “She is handling her frustrations quite well. I think she is grateful to see that there’s a community. I think it is difficult at this age.”

Bracken is not sure how long she will help the 91-year-old.

“She’s mobility-challenged,” she said. “If she wants me to continue, I’ll still do that if I’m here. I take her on small walks or on the golf cart. If you’re inside all the time, I think it’s a little tough. You miss the outdoors.”