Our country continues to watch wide eyed as courageous women and men fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Niche Homes wants to recognize some individuals in our own neighborhoods whose selfless acts of kindness or optimistic attitude have make them local heroes. While these community members are not looking for recognition, it is encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring for us to share their stories.
Gary Boswell, Yalecrest
We are big fans of our Yalecrest neighborhood UPS driver, Gary Boswell. He has kept our deliveries safe and reliable for 29 years! He’s never without a warm smile and wave. And he is a favorite among the four-legged set with his special stash of dog treats he carries around for our furry neighbors.
Gary unfortunately lost his 18 year old son on March 4th in a motorcycle accident. Gary has always strived to be positive and find the silver lining in everything. He takes comfort that his son’s healthy body benefited over 10 lives because he could share his lungs, heart, kidneys, pancreas, skin, blood and corneas. We share our sympathies with the Boswell family during this time of extreme grief. During all of this, and along with heightened coronavirus anxieties, Gary continues to be a beacon of light and hope. We invite you to read more about Gary’s son, Matthew Boswell.
We are grateful for all our reliable, kind and attentive delivery men and women.
U.S. Air Force photo by Cynthia Griggs.
Dr. Kim Jensen and Lieutenant Colonel Steve “Pike” Jensen, Kaysville
Dr. Kim Jensen and Lieutenant Colonel Steve “Pike” Jensen may be Arkansas natives, but they have made a big impact in Utah. This power pair, who currently reside in Kaysville, first moved to Salt Lake in 2009. At the time Kim was completing her residency at the University of Utah. Pike was a F-16 pilot stationed at Hill Air Force Base. As duty called, they moved their family across the Pacific to South Korea, next to the Southwest desert of New Mexico, and returned to the Beehive State in 2019 where Pike began flying the Air Force’s next gen aircraft, the F-35, with the 466 Fighter Squadron.
In November of 2019, Pike deployed with the Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, one of the first combat capable F-35A units in the Air Force. Meanwhile, Kim served as an Internal Medicine Physician at the Farmington Health Center. After flying 6 months in the Middle East in support of the U.S. Air Force Command mission, Pike safely returned home in May of 2020 to Kim and their three children. When asked about their dedication, sacrifice, and service before self-mentality, Kim and Pike both credit it to their strong faith. They believe it is a privilege to have the opportunity to serve others.
Meghann Brimhall & Alissa Harrod/ Single Parent Project, Riverton
Meghann Brimhall was a single mother for seven years before she met Alissa Harrod. Up to that point, Meghan had taken for granted how her life and children benefited from a supportive family and social network. Alissa didn’t have that kind of support. And it inspired her to approach Meghan about founding the Single Parent Project.
The Single Parent Project, founded in January 2020, provides resources, donations and support for single parents who don’t have a wider support system. They offer financial literacy courses and temporary financial relief to fill the gap between a missed rent payment and eviction. They are launching their first support group to serve those affected by domestic violence and trauma this month. And last month, they began renting a small office space and are working to build a food pantry.
Sadly, COVID-19 has only heightened the needs of single parents who have lost jobs or whose hourly wages have been decreased. The Single Parent Project is attempting to step in and help parents avoid high-interest credit cards and payday loans. Donations from individuals and small businesses have slowed over the last few months, just as needs have increased. To learn more about the Single Parent Project, or to donate, visit their website, or follow them on Instagram. You can also watch their inspiring interviews with ABC4, KUTV2 and Not the Way I Planned podcast.
Phyllis is Yalecrest’s oldest resident, ringing in her 105th birthday last Saturday. It’s hard to believe, but Phyllis was three years old during the 1918 pandemic. We spoke to her by phone this week and she is as active and spunky as ever. She continues to cook, clean and go to the grocery store with her daughter once a week.
Phyllis has some advice to share with all of us during the coronavirus pandemic. First, she wishes more people would take the pandemic seriously and minimize the chance for transmission. She urges us all to keep up on social distancing, even though she admits it has been a bit boring. Second, she encourages everyone to pull out of their rut and get creative. She has been cooking more in her kitchen. And she loved the drive-by held by neighbors on her birthday. It brought her much cheer to wave at them and see so many friendly faces.
In her words, “the world has seen a lot of ups and downs; it is an interesting place and we should expect that!”
You can read more about Phyllis’s exciting life and advice from our 2018 blog post, Meet Phyllis, age 103, Yalecrest’s Oldest Resident.
Liz Hyde, Millcreek
Liz Hyde is a third-generation intensive care nurse who works for Intermountain Health Care. She recently returned from New York City as one of the IHC medical providers who flew out to offer relief during the COVID-19 patient surge. Liz arrived in the middle of the NYC escalation of COVID-19 cases. The Long Island hospital she served typically has 25 ICU beds and was extending itself to serve 125 beds. The hospital was pulling nurses from all departments. Her training as a shock trauma ICU nurse brought enormous relief to the overworked and overwhelmed staff.
Liz’s advice for Utah is to be safe, responsible and wear a mask as our community slowly reopens. It is hard to comprehend the suffering and impact of COVID-19 when we have not been hit nearly as hard as many other areas, including the tri-state area. We thank Liz and all of our healthcare providers for their service, training and the relief they are providing during these pandemic times.
Laurel McConkie, Highland Park
Laurel McConkie, coordinator at the Lincoln Community Center (one of 32 educational equity branches for Granite school district), educates refugee and underprivileged parents and children with an emphasis on English language and computer skills. “Our goal is to help their children thrive academically, and the only way they’re going to do that is if the parents are involved in their child’s education. They need to know how to parent within our culture, while keeping their own culture.”
Laurel does more than coordinate and assist in the education of these families. She is a friend and a source of comfort and hope, a person to whom they can turn when they have needs and questions. And she is constantly amazed by their resilience and fortitude. “Their stories and their heroism are a reminder to me that we have the capacity to do all kinds of hard things. They have endured more than I can possibly wrap my brain around, and they continue to give love and give hope to others.”
Laurel continues to check in on her families during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Just knowing them and knowing their stories, and talking to them…they remind me how fully capable we are of handling our things. Especially if they’ve come from a [refugee] camp…”
“They’ve taught me that when things are hard, a lot of them sing and dance. It’s like they know those feelings have to go somewhere, so they just experience it and it’s not so crushing. It’s been a reminder to me that we have the capacity to do all kinds of hard things because of their stories and their heroism. They have such a gift for seeing the needs of others.”
Betty Naylor, Yalecrest
Don’t let her name fool you: “Bad Betty” as she is affectionately known at Emigration Market is about as good as it gets. She has been checking out and bagging groceries for as long as anyone can remember. When COVID-19 first hit, Betty took six weeks off to protect her health. She returned to her full-time schedule last week. While home, Betty was able to do a spring cleaning unlike ever before. She sorted through cabinets and drawers she hasn’t touched in 30 years! She was also able to spend more time with her daughter. Betty finds great joy seeing all the people walking around the neighborhood. It makes her happy to see all the bikes, dogs, and people roaming around. Betty is impressed with the kindness and patience she is seeing from the patrons at Harmon’s. Most people are following all the rules and Harmon’s is able to keep their employees and patrons safe.
Betty is honored to serve the Yalecrest residents and says, “Thank you for staying safe!”
Todd Quarnberg, Daybreak
Todd Quarnberg, or Mr. Q. as the students affectionately call him, loves his job. Mr. Q has been the principal of Herriman High School since 2008 and likes to joke, “I am a single guy married to the high school.” And that is 100% true. Whether he is listening to a concerned student or parent, or taking care of a student in crisis, he is on the job 24/7.
There is a mutual respect between students and Mr. Q. Last year, during a high school out-of-state team trip, a student ended up in the hospital. Mr. Q spent hours with her at the hospital and then found a way to get her home with the team. He missed his own flight so she could make it back. And this is just one example of many, many others. The current PTSA president at Herriman High School Heidi Clayton says, “Mr Q is gracious, kind, listens and is an invaluable ally.”
During COVID-19 restrictions, Mr. Q is working tirelessly to ready the almost 900 seniors students for graduation. He is going above and beyond to make each student feel recognized and special. His passion and dedication for his school is unlike any other. Each student at Herriman High knows Mr. Q cares for them and always “has their back.”
Laura Hoggard, Bluffdale
Laura Hoggard is a special education teacher at Riverton Elementary. Like many teachers, she is an oft-overlooked frontline worker teaching our community’s most vulnerable. She has provided comfort and familiarity to her students during these uncertain times and shown a heroic willingness to teach and serve. Everyday she goes above and beyond teaching her special-need students, particularly students on the Autism spectrum. Laura excels at connecting parents and students to programs, tools and resources to enhance the live of the children in her care. She is passionate about what she does and leads a remarkable team of aides by exampling genuine concern. Her students love and trust Laura to educate, advocate and help them on their life journey.
This blog was originally posted on May 19, 2020 and updated on February 2, 2021.