Bears on the Frontline: Healthcare and Essential Worker Appreciation

As the COVID-19 remains a health emergency across the globe, we at Bear World Magazine would like to show our appreciation and gratitude for the courageousness and hard work of our essential workers and healthcare professionals during these difficult times. 

Last month we highlighted 8 essential bears. This month we highlight 5 more bears who are doing great things in their communities!

Zero ONYX (Jay Simmons)

City: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Occupation: COVID-19 Response Field Specialist & Part-Time Gas Station Attendant

“I work with people in the homeless population who tested positive for COVID-19 while being housed in the Holiday Inn quarantine site in Philadelphia. I do intakes for new admissions, and work with the treatment team for discharges.

I also do wellness checks for those housed in the site, and I pick up medications for clients as well.  I check on homeless residents in the community, assess needs, and link them with services, such as drug treatment, food service, etc. In addition to this, I work at a gas station part-time.”

Ahmed Edbel Galarza Rivera

City: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Occupation: Operating Room Nurse

“Due to the pandemic, the hospital provided many new beds for critically ill patients. All available spaces have been used, including operating rooms that are not in use now because of the current situation. The first days were especially hard and chaotic, but the situation has generated a lot of unity and camaraderie among the healthcare personnel. 

At only 30 years of age, I have had some life-changing experiences. But I have definitely never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made me recognize and revisit the effort, work, dedication and vocation in my profession.

Being recognized encourages and causes fears to be diminished. I ask my community, especially the bears — even more those in Puerto Rico and my second home, The Bear Tavern — to stay home and follow the correct precautions. Many call me a hero without a cape, but I recognize that the only hero is God.

To each one of you I say: You are my people and my heart, for whom I carry a lantern and swear to serve, defend and care.”


City: London, United Kingdom

Occupation: Supermarket Customer Service & Tobacco Kiosk Assistant

“It’s been a crazy experience during the pandemic working in a supermarket, and seeing how people cope and adjust — both the thoughtful and selfish. After contracting COVID-19 in early April, I’m only just back at work this week. I love being part of something essential!”


City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Occupation: Custodial Worker

“ Hi, I’m Maxxx. My hobby is stripping at the local bars, but my day job is as a custodial worker for one of the largest banks in the country based in Pittsburgh, PA. While most places have closed certain floors of their buildings, the skyscraper I work in has been kept open to ensure that everyone’s financial transactions are being processed on time.

Before the pandemic I used to solely strip and wax floors, however now
my job is to fully sanitize the bathrooms used by the people who are
processing funds 24/7. This involves me spraying down entire bathrooms
(walls, floors, stalls, toilets, etc.) with disinfectant and scrubbing
it all down and sucking it all up with a wet-vac. 

I’m happy to do what I can to help ensure a safe workspace for my colleagues.  Also, I can’t thank the medical and hospital personnel putting their lives on the line for all of us.”


City: Essex, United Kingdom

Occupation: Nurse Practitioner

“Hi, my name’s Matt. I’m a advanced nurse practitioner working in an older adult mental health team. I’m a team manager, and my role is to support my team and organise care, allocating nurses to patients who come into the service. We mostly work with people who battle dementia, but also other mental health conditions that may befall older adults. 

During the pandemic, I am still attending base every day to support the team whilst some of my team works from home. We are providing vital support to the most vulnerable patients who may not have anyone to help them.”

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Kyle Jackson

Kyle Jackson (He/Him) is Senior Staff Writer at Gray Jones Media, and additionally works as a writer, editor and theatre artist/actor. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, he studied at Dillard University, received a BA in Theatre from Morgan State University, an MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University, and completed the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford Programme in 2017. Having lived in Baltimore, the Washington, DC area, Philadelphia and New York City, he now resides and works in London, United Kingdom.