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Recently the Great Ocean team was inspired to give back to those serving on the front lines during these extraordinary times. We asked our past guests to help us support COVID-19 First Responders by nominating the everyday heroes in their lives for a free 7-day vacation in New Smyrna Beach. Our vacation rental management company works with so many amazing property owners that were more than willing to donate their beach condos and homes for our giveaway. We feel so honored to work with such generous, kind-hearted people! It didn’t take long before our New Smyrna Beach vacation giveaway had received HUNDREDS of nominees from all over the country. Not only were we floored by the incredible response, but our hearts’ were moved by the selfless stories that flooded our inbox.

Though headlines seem to bring only discouraging news, we hope that the below stories remind you of the good that’s still in this world. People are still kind. People are still brave. People are still fighting for you and your community. We are beyond thankful for these everyday heroes and cannot wait for them to enjoy a well-deserved beach vacation. Grab a tissue and get ready to meet the people fighting daily for our health and safety.

Meet Your Everyday Heroes…

Mitch and Charlotte O. | Firefighter/paramedic & ICU Nurse

This power couple has faithfully been serving patients in their community as they BOTH are COVID-19 first responders. Mitch is a firefighter/paramedic, a rescue diver, and an Emergency Room technician. Charlotte is an ICU nurse at the hospital and also works in the emergency room treating critical patients. As if they weren’t already serving their community well, they both work TWO jobs that center on patient-care. We can’t thank Mitch and Charlotte enough for their work – They certainly deserve a vacation in #NSB!

Chelsea R. | RN Nurse

This RN nurse has become a comforting presence to so many who are diagnosed and alone in the hospital. As visitors aren’t allowed right now, Chelsea has gone above and beyond in patient-care by trying to raise their spirits, let them know they’re not alone, and often sits with them to hold their hand through the suffering. This RN’s heart has greatly affected us (and we’re sure so many others!). Thank you for all you do Chelsea. You’re truly a hero.

Jonathan and Heidi W. | Respiratory Therapist & RN Nurse

Jon and Heidi are another dynamic couple that are faithfully serving on the frontlines. Both have been in the medical field for well-over 20 years and have found themselves especially busy during this time. As a Respiratory Therapist, Jon has been working everywhere from the ER to the ventilators in the ICU. Heidi works as an RN and has been working night shifts cross-training in the ICU, checking temperatures in the ER, and helping in the COVID-19 units. Even after long hours and new challenges, the couple still prioritizes their family and strives to work the same shift so they can both come home to their two teenagers. We are so grateful for the amazing work they do. Thank you Jon and Heidi, you and your family more than deserve time together in NSB!

Nick C. | Firefighter / Paramedic

Nick shows up early and without hesitation every shift as a firefighter/paramedic in Central Florida. Although he had just recovered from a difficult time being ill, Nick immediately jumped back in to help as COVID-19 cases began to increase. His shifts are 24 hours (sometimes 48 hours!) long and are filled with calls that require patient care and contact. Thank you SO much Nick for all the sleepless nights, tireless dedication, and on-call care that you’ve given to your community. We can’t wait to see you and your family enjoying some much needed R&R in New Smyrna Beach.

Kelsey O. | Infectious Disease Nurse

Though she only graduated from college a year ago, Kelsey is already making a huge impact in her field and in the lives around her. Currently working as an infectious disease nurse in the epi-center of the COVID-19 battle, New York City, Kelsey selflessly serves on shift and shares her day-to-day experiences on her blog.  Her heartfelt words have touched us (and so many!) as she shares what she sees and experiences daily in New York City. You’re doing incredible, Kelsey. Thank you for your amazing work, we are eternally grateful.

Michael W. | Cardiac Cath. Radiology Tech

When his hospital began preparing for COVID-19, Michael quickly volunteered to fill in any gaps in staffing. Although he’s a Cardiac Cath. Radiology Tech, Michael has been serving on the hospital task team and helping anywhere where he’s licensed to. From his day to day duties to work in the COVID-19 testing tents to attending patient hygiene and personal care needs, he’s demonstrated an amazing willingness to serve in whatever area needed. Thank you Michael for your incredible heart for others; we’re so grateful for all you’ve done!

John L. | Lieutenant in Fire Department

For over 33 years, John has faithfully served his community and country. From beginning his career in the United States Air Force to now serving as a lieutenant in the fire department, John has dedicated his life to helping those around him. John’s normal schedule includes 24-hour shifts, however since the pandemic began, he’s volunteered to work extra… Sometimes being away for an entire 48 hours! When he’s not leading at the fire station, John is busy helping his wife with their ten children at home. We are blown away by how this lieutenant selflessly gives himself to both his community and his family on a daily basis. John (and his family of 12!) certainly deserve time relaxing in NSB.

Logan P. | Charge RN in ER Department

Those who know Logan know him to be patient, giving, strong, and undeniably loyal to his work. His excellent example as a Charge RN led to his nomination as the ER department’s nominee for hospital worker of the year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Logan has worked endless hours on the front-lines and not shied away from covering others’ shifts. All through this, he’s kept a positive outlook and is known for being a cheerleader for both his profession and hospital. We so appreciate Logan’s hard-work and positive spirit during these times. Thank you for all you do!

Mark T. | Critical Care Flight Paramedic

While his official job description is a critical care flight paramedic, Mark is known as “a lifesaver” by those he comes in contact with. Every call on his shifts revolve around critical patient care, accuracy, and quick thinking. Though his heroic efforts have literally saved lives, Mark will only reply by saying, “I’m just doing what I was called to do.” Since COVID-19 began, he’s bravely continued in his job and taken special care to ensure that his wife and three daughters are not exposed. His life-saving work, humble attitude, and commitment to his patients have certainly earned this flight medic respect from those around him. Thank you Mark for your inspiring commitment and dedication to others!

Kathleen S. | Oncology Nurse

Kathleen is one of those people who shines with a selfless soul. From raising four children to working as an oncology nurse, Kathy’s created quite a legacy as she always puts others ahead of herself. According to her daughter, “she would give a stranger the shirt off of her back.” Instead of staying home when her oncology patient treatments were paused, Kathleen volunteered to help those in need by working any unit at the hospital. She’s now working up to 60-70 hours a week caring for virus-positive patients, working on the acute care floors, and helping in the ICU. Aside from the workload she’s taken on, Kathleen has even volunteered to train new nurses during this time. She truly is a public servant with a heart of gold. We can’t express how honored we are to have someone like her in our community!

Kendra A. | Nurse

Kendra has displayed both bravery and commitment to her community as she serves in one of the hardest hit hospitals in the metro Detroit area. Despite being the only full-time employee in her department, Kendra has volunteered to work extra and has spent multiple days in a row at the hospital. She works with some of the most critical COVID-19 patients, and her loved ones say she gives her patients her all. Thank you so much Kendra for your selfless work! You more than deserve a getaway in New Smyrna Beach.

Sarah S. | ER Nurse

Instead of an emblem and cape, you’ll find this everyday hero wearing scrubs in the ER.  Sarah has worked in the medical field for over 15 years and 12 years as an ER nurse. Working in the ER has been increasingly stressful during this pandemic as Sarah is typically first in contact with patients who arrive anxious, depleted, and worried about their diagnosis. Her heart has been to not only provide exceptional care, but also emotional reassurance.  After her colleagues were exposed to the virus, Sarah took on additional shifts to ensure coverage and care of her community. When she’s not caring for those in the ER, you’ll find her heart for others overflows into her everyday life. Even while working full-time during a pandemic, Sarah has been caring for her aging parents, writing letters to cancer patients, and even adopted a senior dog from the shelter! She truly is an everyday hero, both on shift and off.

Michael G. | Critical Care Flight Paramedic

Michael is one of those amazing people who excels at what he does because of a love and compassion for patients. He serves as a critical care flight paramedic and has sacrificed even part of his honeymoon to attend additional classes for this position. Though the calls he receives on shift are critical and heart-wrenching, Michael understands the incredible role he and his colleagues have at this time. He’s told his close friends that, “Not all COVID-19 patients have died alone. We have been with them.” We are so touched by Michael’s kind heart and dedication to a job so difficult. Thank you for all you do Michael; we are so grateful for someone like you.

Jessica A. | Director of Acute Care for University of Maryland Shore Regional Health

Jessica has dedicated her career to helping patients in the most critical need as an Acute Care Director. While this position is not a simple job in itself, the pandemic has extended Jessica’s role to cover all of COVID-19 acute in-patient care. Her love for her community and staff fuels her to work even harder and she’ll often sleep at the hospital instead of going home. We’re so inspired by Jessica’s selfless work ethic as she serves us during these times. Once this passes, we cannot wait to see her enjoying a well-deserved vacation in New Smyrna Beach!

Dona I. | Nurse

Those who know Dona know her to be a nurse’s nurse. When medical assistance was needed in one of the hardest hit hospitals, Mount Sinai Brooklyn, Dona immediately jumped in to help. Her brave leadership and skill has been built from years as an ex-military nurse with a strong background in critical care. From walking the floors with staff members to providing encouragement in an atmosphere that needed it, Dona has made an impact on the lives around her. Thank you for all you do Donna, we are so inspired by your brave willingness to help.

Patsy G. | RN Nurse in ICU

Working as an RN Nurse in the ICU during COVID-19 has been one of the most challenging times as a nurse for Patsy. Lately, her daily work has revolved around patient-care for those diagnosed and on ventilators. From terrified patients to families dealing with loss, her eyes have truly witnessed the worst during this time. Although she’s worried about her family and their exposure, Patsy bravely shows up each shift and works with her team to provide the best care for her those hurting in their community. Patsy truly is a hero in this pandemic, and we are so grateful to know there are people like her in this world.

Ray K. | Health Care Professional

While most would shy away from serving in the New York/New Jersey area, Ray chose to fly across the country to serve those in the nation’s pandemic hotspot. This health care professional has bravely served in overwhelmed hospitals by helping the local staff with dialysis treatments.  Even though it meant sacrificing Easter with his family, Ray selflessly chose to help those in need. His family, church community, and our company recognize him as one of our everyday heroes. Thank you for all you do Ray!

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