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Meet Your Neighbor, Clay.

Although Clay does not reside in Berwyn, he works in our community as a Team Leader in the Berwyn COVID Defense Team and has created an important impact. Clay is an honorary #Berwynner!

Name:

Clay Riggan

Hometown

Winnetka, IL

About Clay

I am originally from Winnetka, IL. Growing up, I always had a deep feeling to help others. I also like to be doing something using my hands and feet. Those ideas in my head paved the way to my professional jobs, like being a Harbormaster at Glencoe Beach in Glencoe, IL, where I managed a Marine Rescue Team. That job involved monitoring the open waters of Lake Michigan for boaters in distress – and if warranted, dispatching a rescue team via power boat to assist and provide on-water First Aid and CPR. Basically, lifeguards on motor boats and jet skis! In my down time, I enjoyed swimming and sailing Hobie 16 Catamarans on the lake with friends and family.

I continued working seasonally (summers) at the beach throughout high school and college. Later, I graduated from Illinois State University with a major in Communications and needed to find a full-time job. Throughout the past few years, I worked in sales selling everything from residential elevators used in homes to business development in the real estate industry. Most recently, I worked at WGN TV News Chicago as their Helicopter Photographer for SKYCAM9. Photography is an ongoing passion of mine. Self-taught, I learned through books and YouTube tutorials. With the helicopter job, I had the opportunity land at my feet while speaking with someone at a birthday party, and the power of networking eventually solidified a job offer to work with WGN. When flying in SKYCAM9, I covered everything – breaking news, sunsets, morning traffic, structure fires and police situations. My desk was at 1,500ft above ground every day and I was grateful to have that seat. It shifted the way I perceived Illinois and connected me to the communities I covered.

Occupation

Role: Team leader – Berwyn COVID Defense Team
Goal: Provide COVID-19 safety guidance and educational resources to Berwyn’s residents, business leaders and public. We also strive to keep the public informed with the latest state and local safety guidelines. The role was initially created as a result of the pandemic.

Flashback towards the beginning of the pandemic. I had lost my job, and needed to find something quick. During that time, the Berwyn Health District had a job opening for a community caregiver role. What caught my eye on the job description was “drone/UAV operator experience required”. Having my own personal experience working in aerial photography – I reached out to the Berwyn Health District and was immediately hired. Time was of the essence, and businesses in Berwyn needed guidance. So, my role evolved into making in-person visits to businesses.

Visits involved meeting with business owners and managers in order to provide IDPH educational resources and answer any questions. Additionally, observations were conducted by evaluating the businesses safety procedures and overall compliance to IDPH guidelines. As we moved into Phase 4 on June 26, 2020, we worked closely with the BDC and our businesses to ensure our establishments were aware of the guidelines, felt comfortable, and were ready to open on June 26, 2020. Since June 26, we have continued to assist and provide guidance with the reopening guidelines of Phase 4. We have used multiple media platforms, with the majority being personal encounters and collaboration. Thus far, we remain in contact with dining establishments, bars, grocery stores and personal care establishments, educating and observing establishments in Berwyn. Additionally, the Berwyn Health District was pleased to announce the hiring of a new COVID Defense Team member. The additional team member will play a key role in educating and monitoring local businesses under IDPH Phase 4 guidelines. The new hire begins this month, October 2020.
At the end of the day, working at the Berwyn Health District with community members during a Pandemic has shown me an important idea to keep in mind. That is, respect is a two-way street.

I bear the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask to protect you and the people you are around. Putting on a mask in the presence of others is now my routine. It’s engrained in my subconscious mind. At this point, haven’t we all had that moment: You just close your car door in the grocery store parking lot, you’re about to walk up to the business doors, and you say “oh, shoot! forgot my mask” and do the 180-degree turnaround back towards your car to grab a mask. I even witness people in public doing the same thing! When I wear my mask around you in public, I know that I’m minimizing the risk of exposing you to any potential infection from my air particles. That, along with washing my hands frequently and social distancing. I’d hope you would do the same for me.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about serving the public. I’ve always had job roles working with community and government organizations since I was in high school. Although I feel like the word “passionate” is an overused term today, I feel that empathy and understanding have drawn me to past service opportunities.

Growing up, I was raised by my parents and siblings to help others, especially those who were less fortunate and to assist in any way I could.

What is one question you get asked repeatedly about your profession?

“How bad are COVID-19 Cases in Berwyn?” I’m frequently asked that. My answer is, you can find out Berwyn’s COVID case numbers by going to: https://ccdphcd.shinyapps.io/covid19

What makes you laugh?

The little things in life make me laugh. Some TV shows the make me laugh are the BBC’s UK Office and Nathan For You on Comedy Central.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Why?

Graduating from college and receiving my bachelor’s degree in Communications. It was the first time in my life where I set my sights on a long-term goal. It showed me the importance of managing my time efficiently, discipline and countless life experiences.

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