It’s been just over a year since the first cases of COVID-19 were officially discovered in Canada. Looking back, it was a time of fear of the unknown; grocery store shelves were empty, elective surgeries canceled as hospital inpatient rates rose, stores and restaurants shut down, and everyone told to stay home from work and school.
While many of us struggled to figure it out and adapt to our new lives, there were those who put their fears aside to help out. They are the front-line workers; doctors, nurses, police & firefighters, and security officers, just to name a few.
They showed up when everyone else stayed home. Helped support patients. Worked extra hours to ensure all shifts were filled. And risked their lives to keep others safe.
While nothing could truly be enough to thank our officers for the amazing job that they do, we wanted to do something that united our people, recognized their sacrifices, and could be kept as a memory of the time the world stopped because of the pandemic of 2020. After many rounds of brainstorming and contemplation, an idea was born: awarding each and every officer with the prestigious Challenge Coin.
Building off of our annual 24-Hours of Thanks recognition, where our local management teams visit each of our sites handing out small tokens of our appreciation, Paladin wanted to expand this to occur simultaneously across Canada. Embarking on our largest recognition initiative to date, our teams made sure each of our employees truly felt how important their contributions really are.
A Challenge Coin represents teams, achievements, an anniversary, or a special event. It builds close-knit, long-lasting bonds between people who receive them, and represents unity and trust. The coin also has a long-standing tradition in military and law enforcement history and is a prized possession for anyone who has earned it. The coin recognizes our security officers who have taken part, along with hundreds of thousands of other front-line workers, in the battle of a lifetime to save lives and keep people healthy. For that, we are grateful.
“In our lifetimes, we have never been faced with a challenge of this magnitude. Our teams across the country have worked tirelessly to ensure the evolving needs of our customers are not only met but exceeded, personifying the Paladin Difference,” Paladin COVID-19 Recognition Committee Chair and Branch Manager Jason Lynagh explained.
Tom Hubbard was one of the officers who received a coin. He’s a site supervisor at Okanagan College in Kelowna, BC, and said it was a complete surprise when his Client Service Manager showed up with Challenge Coins to hand out.
“I thought it was nice because something I noticed in the media is that security gets overlooked when it comes to frontline workers. It’s mostly focused on doctors, nurses, and police, so the company reaching out and thanking us for doing that is really special,” Hubbard explained.
Hubbard has been with Paladin for nine years and has held the title of Site Supervisor for five. He said when the pandemic hit, he never once questioned showing up to work and doing his job, and immediately began to work closely with the clients in order to help with the occupational health side of things to ensure everyone was protected.
Protection and safety were huge factors in why Security Officer Christina Parkinson decided to continue working when the pandemic struck. She said the decision weighed heavily on her mind as the site she worked at was high risk.
“The Orchard Park Mall has a lot of tourists who visit, but there are a lot of precautions now in place, like masks. I think 99% of people who shop at the mall wear masks. Plus I always make sure to stay six feet away from guests and not be in someone’s personal space,” Parkinson said.
Parkinson has been with Paladin since 2018, and, like Hubbard, said it was a complete surprise when she was handed the coin.
“I was like what the heck?” Parkinson exclaimed. “I think it’s a good recognition for our line in work. We work a lot with seniors, tourists, and people who might be sick, so for the company to show they are thinking of us and recognizing our dedication and hard work is really nice.”
Parkinson keeps the coin and certificate on her dresser as a reminder of the challenging year, but also as motivation for why it's important to show up and be there for others.
While Paladin has undertaken numerous initiatives locally and provincially to recognize our officers throughout the pandemic, this was a chance to acknowledge and unite the entire team from coast to coast. Roughly 14,000 employees received the customized Challenge Coin, a commemorative lapel pin, a certificate of recognition, and a letter from Paladin’s President, Chad Kalyk. Management from across the country also gave thanks through this video. Honouring the officers this way was a no-brainer.
“It is integral that as an organization we acknowledge the commitment that our people have made to the company, our customer base, one another, and the communities that we are fortunate enough to serve,” Lynagh said.
Here’s a close up look at the coins:
Thank you to all of our front-line workers for your dedication and a job well done.