The Heroes Among Us | Candice Gaenslen Beecher, DSHA ‘04
BY MADELINE ZUKOWSKI, DSHA '11
During this time of crisis, the community has looked to, and continues to depend on, the frontline heroes. The setting of their work may differ from person to person—they may work in hospitals, directly in the community, or in places with vulnerable populations—but they all have a passion and drive to help their neighbors, even as it presents a risk to their own well-being.
Dozens of DSHA alumnae are these heroes. They all embody what it means to be a Dasher — a confident, capable woman making an actual, tangible difference in the world for good.
They are believers. They draw on their faith that was strengthened at DSHA, and lean on this faith during this difficult time.
They are self-advocates. They assess their strength and abilities, and do their part to help whenever and however they know they are capable. With courage, they fight for what is right—for their patients and themselves —evenin the midst of risk and unknowns.
They are critical thinkers. Even though their job responsibilities and roles have evolved, they adapt quickly and intelligently, making choices of life and death each day.
They are communicators. They hear from those who are struggling; they respond and they share in those struggles. They communicate using both strategy and empathy, grace, and truth.
They are leaders. In constant collaboration with others, they proactively fight to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the effect it has on all members of the community.
While the DSHA Qualities of a Graduate were established in these frontlines alumnae during their time at DSHA or its founding schools, we are learning from them each and every day, even as they continue to discover new information themselves. They show us what it means to carry oneself with confidence, to selflessly help others, and to trust in our values and beliefs—even and especially when times are tough. We are proud to call these alumnae a part of our community.
Fred Rogers is famously quoted for saying, “When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
These alumnae are quick to point to others who are helping, the people they find in their line of work that inspire them. But they deserve the recognition as well.
They are the helpers. And for that, we are immensely grateful.
Candice Gaenslen Beecher, DSHA '04 Patrol officer | West Allis Police Department
While Candice Gaenslen Beecher, DSHA ’04, isn’t directly a member of the medical community, she still plays a vital role in flattening the curve of COVID-19. She continues to respond to calls from those who need help. This has always been her responsibility, even before the pandemic hit — but now she puts herself at risk every time she assists someone in the community.
To prevent herself and those vulnerable around her from exposure to the virus, she wears a mask and gloves. The West Allis Police Department has established a number of protocols as well; her squad car and equipment are disinfected at the start and end of her shifts, and any time she will be in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, she is alerted.
Beecher has done her part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in two ways: first, she transports those who are sick or may appear to have COVID-19 symptoms to the hospital.
“Working hand in hand with paramedics and staff at the hospitals, and seeing them work tirelessly during this pandemic, has been truly inspirational,” Beecher said.
Second, Beecher has been responding to a “surplus” of calls regarding large gatherings where she orders the groups to disperse, despite the frustrations of the some of the community members. “Once we reiterate the reasoning behind the regulations, the citizens of West Allis typically respond well to our orders,” she said.
While working on the frontlines of the pandemic is tiring and difficult, she found that her work has helped her define her skill set, from responding to stressful situations to working together with medical personnel and other first responders.
She has also relied on the skills DSHA taught her: critical thinking and effective communication. However, she finds the sense of faith DSHA instilled in her has been most important during this time, and helps her continue her work.
“During this pandemic, officers are responding to people in crisis,” Beecher said. “Whether it’s related to dealing with the hardship of losing a loved one, or dealing with financial struggles, or the struggle with being isolated which is causing a rise in mental health issues, having my faith to guide me keeps me going.”
And even though we are apart, we can stand together to fight the pandemic, she noted.
“Our ability to adapt, to care for, and work with one another is key to doing our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” she said.