Remember the unsung heroes this holiday season

By JENNIFER MUIR BEUTHIN, Contributing Columnist

Every year the Register recognizes influencers throughout our communities — leaders who have made a mark, whose stories provide a glimpse into the incredible and diverse fabric that makes Orange County so special. Congratulations to each of the honorees.

For each of the 100 most influential people who are singled out every year, we can all probably name people in our own circles who make a huge impact on our lives each day. And so these influencer stories also help us all tap into our own personal feelings of gratitude, feelings that are especially poignant as we shop and cook and prepare to spend time with loved ones during the holidays.

In that spirit of gratitude, I wanted to highlight the efforts of a group of incredibly influential people because the very nature of their work often means that when they’re successful, most of us hardly know they’re there.

The municipal workforce in our county impacts just about every aspect of our daily lives, and this holiday season is no different.

For those of us who have family visiting from out of town, your guests will be greeted at John Wayne Airport by Sheriff’s Special Officers whose job is to make sure the public is safe inside and outside the walls of the airport terminals. You can feel confident knowing that SSOs have intervened not only to protect the public from dangerous situations, but also to perform CPR and save lives when travelers have fallen ill.

After everyone piles into the car and heads toward home, you can drive safely knowing that public works workers have fixed potholes, and that the street lights and signs are well maintained.

Our family is attending a neighborhood gathering on Christmas Eve with Santa, and all the parents who will be there can feel confident their kids won’t leave with any illness worse than the sniffles because public health nurses in our community have done great work monitoring and stopping the spread of communicable disease, such as measles.

While those of us with house guests may not be able to guarantee hot water for everyone’s shower, we can rely on that water being clean and safe for bathing and drinking thanks to the engineers and technicians who maintain Orange County’s water infrastructure.

Park rangers and maintenance workers care for our valuable public space, making sure it’s accessible for anyone who needs to escape from holiday “togetherness” and spend a few minutes alone.

And on Christmas morning, when we wake up to a beautiful quiet neighborhood, the streets are safe outside because so many law enforcement officials who patrol and work in our municipal jails didn’t take the day off.

So this holiday season I would like to recognize each and every one of those people whose work makes our community work. Particularly for those who will be working this weekend instead of spending time celebrating with your loved ones, thank you. And Merry Christmas.

Jennifer Muir Beuthin is general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

Publication Date: December 23, 2016