‘A way for me to say thank you.’
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact nearly all aspects of everyday life, Allegany County Sheriff Craig Robertson had a personal passion to find a creative outlet and extend his support and thanks to the staff at UPMC Western Maryland.
Using submitted photographs as his inspiration, Sheriff Robertson recently completed a sketch featuring several UPMC Western Maryland employees hard at work during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Drawing is a release for me,” Sheriff Robertson said. “This was a way for me to show my appreciation to everyone in the medical profession for what they are doing.”
The project began several weeks ago through a social media post asking people to provide photos of staff in action during the COVID pandemic. “I received so many photos,” Sheriff Robertson said. I am sorry I could not use each one. I have been around UPMC Western Maryland staff on both a personal and professional level, and every time my family and I have been treated with such professionalism and respect. Most of the people in the drawing are actual staff members at UPMC Western Maryland. Some are friends, some are family, and some I have never been honored to meet. It was just a way for me to say thank you. These employees do so much for us, and they should get the thanks they deserve.”
Over the years, Sheriff Robertson honed his talent while combining his lifelong love of drawing with a passion for service and his love of local history. “I started taking art lessons in the third grade from a lady in Barton. It’s funny that these lessons were more directed toward oil painting, and today I can’t use oil paints at all. Throughout the years, I would continue to dabble with drawing until later in life when it became more of an obsession. Around 2006 or 2007, Allegany County began construction on Mountain Ridge High School in Frostburg. Being a graduate of the former Valley High School – which would have been a feeder school to Mountain Ridge – I came up with an idea to do a drawing of the newly constructed school with numerous feeder schools surrounding it. It was from that date forward that I would continue drawing in my spare time. Because of my love for area history, most of my drawings are of such.”
Now nearing 50 years of public service, Sheriff Robertson feels a strong connection to the staff he honored in his drawing. “I started my love for community service back in high school when I volunteered my time with the Frostburg Area Ambulance in 1976. Over the years I took numerous training classes including Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic classes. I loved helping people and continued on this path until becoming a member of the Cumberland City Police Department and then the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office.”
In his many roles, he worked with the medical profession often. “I understand what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. My older daughter, Stephanie McDonald, has been an employee of UPMC Western Maryland now for many years, and recently my middle daughter, Erica Robertson, has come on board also, while she continues to pursue her master’s degree. I have many friends who work there, and the administration has always been a pleasure to work with. I just have so many connections with UPMC Western Maryland health care workers.”
As the logistics of printing and making his drawing available to the staff whom he wanted to recognize come together, Sheriff Robertson said the teamwork he is witnessing is something he will not soon forget.
“The challenge that we face today is something I never would have imagined in my life. We have had to think outside the box many times because there is really no playbook available. One thing that does make it a little easier is the relationship we all have here in Allegany County. We have all worked so well together, from law enforcement to the Allegany County Health Department, to UPMC Western Maryland, to our Emergency Services, and our communities in general have all come together to fight this disease. We will get through this as a team.”