This Public Service Recognition Week 2020, join ASPA as we proudly honor public servants on the frontlines of the response to COVID-19. Please take a few minutes to read the words of Christina Salvatier, as she prepares for the challenges she and other nonprofit administrators will lead us through over the months and years ahead.

I grew up in Los Banos, California and moved to San Jose in 2007 to begin a degree in accounting at San Jose State University. After graduating in 2010, I began work at the Valley Medical Center Foundation. Over the last decade, I have grown so much, from starting as a bookkeeper in 2010 to serving as the Foundation’s chief financial officer now. In 2017, I returned to San Jose State for an MPA with my now-husband because I wanted to do more to help people.

The Foundation is rooted in ideas of social equity, diversity and inclusion. The Foundation’s purpose is to support the County Hospital, which serves a broad community—including uninsured, undocumented and/or lower-income families. Many of those we serve make up a vulnerable part of our community, which is why I am glad to be a part of this important work. My father passed away when I was young, and my mother, in turn, had to work to support her five children. As the second oldest child, it was natural for me to help my mother and siblings. I view my work at the Foundation as an extension of that desire—to help others. I think that is what Public Service Recognition Week is all about, too.

My organization has become an essential part of our community’s response to the coronavirus. We have ramped up accepting donations of protective equipment and, throughout the last couple of months, our office has temporarily transitioned from a nonprofit to a what seems like a distribution center and warehouse. Managing a large inventory is not a fundamental part of what our organization does, but figuring out how to process and distribute protective equipment was a new challenge that we solved in a matter of hours.

The coronavirus has magnified kindness in our community. Early on, there was a lot of fear in our office—including from myself—about how others would respond, but community members have been tremendously supportive. For instance, recently an individual and their seven-year-old child walked in and donated a bag full of homemade masks. The pride, kindness and generosity that comes with that from so many people, from major companies to individual families who are struggling, is so admirable. I have never received so many emails in a given day about donations or connecting us with those who can somehow get us protective equipment. It’s amazing and really an unbelievable experience.

I was recently asked, “What’s your personal mission in life?” My response was: Being able to help people. To help the community in which I live. I want to continue to serve my community and dedicate my work to the greater good, and ASPA is a fundamental resource that allows me to continue doing what I do. It enhances my ability to serve and it enhances public administrators’ abilities to work in their communities for those who need help the most.

Even though it’s just a small contribution, I love the emails I get from ASPA. They help keep me up to date on the issues around us and around the country—as well as serve to connect me with other ASPA members.

My primary reason to support ASPA is to keep this work going. We need to keep our network of public administrators growing and ASPA is a fundamental agent that enables that to happen.