Toronto

Read the stories of this week's CBC Toronto Front-line Heroes

CBC Toronto wants to introduce you to all the people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic through a series we're calling Front-line Heroes.

We’re introducing a new face each day, recognizing people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic

Front-line Heroes is a CBC Toronto series giving a shout out to workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic across the GTA. (CBC News)

CBC Toronto wants to introduce you to all the people making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic through a series we're calling Front-line Heroes.

Each day, we introduce a new face on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages, giving the person a shout-out for their important work. At the end of the week, you can find their stories here.

We want to hear your stories, too.

If you'd like to tell us about your front-line hero, send us a video explaining why they're a hero to you. Or you can send a short description to torontotips@cbc.ca. Be sure to include a few photos of the person either way.

Kristin Murphy

Kristin Murphy is a nurse with Etobicoke General Hospital. (Submitted by Sean Murphy)

Kristin Murphy typically worked as a nurse in the day surgery unit at Etobicoke General Hospital before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

She's now had to adapt to policy changes and to unfamiliar shifts, but her husband, Sean Murphy, says she's "shown such courage and strength. I've been more scared for her. I'm sure she may have concerns or doubts, but she has been strong through all of this pandemic and has been the one reassuring me."

He says Murphy often comes home exhausted, but she still finds time to take on tasks such as collecting face masks and nursing caps for her colleagues.

The pair is also juggling their schedules to take care of their two-year-old daughter, Arianny Ava, with Murphy constantly wearing a mask, gloves and sanitizing her hands and surfaces.

"She has gone above and beyond. She is my daughter's hero and mine and I hope the community sees that too."

Felipe Luzuriaga

Felipe Luzuriaga is also known as the "violinist on the balcony" to some of his neighbours. He started performing on his balcony in early April. 2:13

Almost every night just after 7:30 p.m. — when the clanging of pots and pans subsides — Felipe Luzuriaga heads to his apartment balcony in the Davisville area to play his violin.

Luzuriaga started the performances at the beginning of April as a way to lift the spirits of his neighbours, share his emotions and entertain others in isolation.

He's known affectionately as the 'violinist on the balcony' by people in the neighbourhood, Luzuriaga says.

"My family and I are happy to share music and a positive message in this special time."

Dr. Alex Caudarella

Dr. Alex Caudarella is a family medicine physician with the addictions team at St. Michael's Hospital. (Submitted by Jonathan Mong)

Dr. Alex Caudarella provides care to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized patients who walk through the doors of St. Michael's Hospital, according to his friend Jon Mong.

Caudarella is a family medicine physician working with the addiction medicine team.

"As a clinician, he is kind and conscientious; as an advocate for patients with substance use, he is articulate and tireless," said Mong.

"In addition to his clinical duties, he has previously petitioned the Ontario government for increased acceptance of and access to harm reduction strategies, and is now involved in the process to establish care for patients with COVID who are part of the Toronto shelter system. He has been a wonderful mentor and excellent role model."

Austin Evans

Austin Evans personally sent letters to more than 15 long-term care homes and retirement residences. 0:51

A Grade 8 student has inspired a school-wide initiative to send handwritten letters to long-term care facilities.

Austin Evans, 14, started the project at Windfields Middle School in North York to help cheer up residents and staff. Most classes in the school are now taking part, says Austin's language teacher Tim Murphy. 

"Moreover, he has also told me another personal goal is to make 50 lunches for those without homes in the city," Murphy said.

"I'm so impressed with his desire to help in any way he can."

Dr. Michael Sklar

Dr. Michael Sklar is a resident physician in critical care medicine at the University of Toronto. (Submitted by Alanna Handelman)

Dr. Michael Sklar is responsible for some of the sickest patients diagnosed with COVID-19, says his sister-in-law Alanna Handelman.

Sklar is a resident physician in critical care at the University of Toronto specializing in anesthesiology. 

"Given his expertise in anesthesia and critical care, Mike has a specialty in the use of ventilators in the ICU," said Handelman.

"He is a compassionate and kind physician and ensures patients' families remain actively involved in their care despite challenges presented by the new restricted visitation policies in hospitals across Ontario."

She says Sklar is also involved in COVID-19 research, including working with physicians internationally to understand how the disease affects the lungs. 

Village of Erin Meadows long-term care home staff

Dorothy Britton's granddaughter, Meghan Noonan, says the staff at the Village of Erin Meadows retirement home helped her "nana" feel like a "Queen" for her birthday this month. 0:33

A family in Mississauga recently decided physical distancing measures wouldn't stop them from celebrating their grandmother's 87th birthday, and they say the staff at her retirement home helped them to make it truly special.

Dorothy Britton lives at the Village of Erin Meadows retirement home in Mississauga. 

One of her grandchildren, Meghan Noonan, says the Meadowvale staff working with her "have been amazing since the very start of this pandemic" and they've "made it their priority for us to connect with her through FaceTime and garden chats."

So, when it came time for her family to surprise their "nana," Noonan says, again, the staff went above and beyond.

"We did not expect to see at least eight nurses walking her out with balloons in their hands. As they walked my nana toward the fence, her smile was huge, and all of us agreed that we have not seen her that happy for a very long time." 

Denise Galszechy

Denise Galszechy is a nurse at St. Michael's Hospital. (Submitted by Nadine Galszechy)

After working through the SARS outbreak, Denise Galszechy is now back on the front line fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, says her sister, Nadine.

For more than 30 years, Galszechy has worked as a registered nurse with St. Michael's Hospital.

"Denise works tirelessly to care for her patients. [She] advocates for others including other vulnerable family members and the general public. She phones authorities to ensure social distancing and price gouging issues are addressed. We pray for her every shift, that she is safe," said her sister.

"Denise also keeps a very positive outlook.  She is supportive and kind to all."