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For the past few months, we’ve been highlighting Penguins fans on the FIRST LINE in the fight against Covid-19 on our social media pages.  We wanted to give you a little more info on some of those making a difference, so every Monday we’re introducing you to one of those nominees in our FAN FILES feature. 

Today, we’re chatting with Joanna Klapacz

Are you an essential worker? 

I am a paramedic for Trans-Med Ambulance, stationed out of Wilkes-Barre Township, as well as for Hanover Township Ambulance.  Even though we’ve been given the label of “essential workers,” I am simply continuing to serve our community in the same capacity that I have always been.

For you, what has been the most challenging part of this transition?

Definitely social distancing to keep myself and my family and friends healthy. The idea of the new normal as going to work and then home, as opposed to having social gatherings or going to restaurants, sporting events etc. has been very difficult.  Some of my closest friends are also first responders, many of which work for the same services as I do, so it’s been very difficult to not just sit down as a group and chat or have meals together at the station. I also terribly miss spending time with my niece and nephews.

What hobbies or activities have you focused on while social distancing? 

I enjoy photography so I have been doing a lot of that, as well as catching up on photo editing.  I’m very much looking forward to warmer spring days to get outside on the hiking trails, as well.  Kuba, my 6-year-old puppy, also keeps me extremely busy.

Is your family, neighbors or community doing anything unique to stay connected?

A majority of my family is in Maryland, North Carolina, and even Poland, so we’ve always relied heavily on phone calls and texting to stay in touch; now we‘ve been sending more picture and video messages.

What type of music or artists do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of country music and really anything upbeat.

When you are home, what are your favorite snacks?

I primarily snack on fresh fruits at home.

Do you have a book, recipe or TV recommendation?  

I’m currently in between shows, but the one recommendation I would have is find something that you enjoy and that doesn’t add to your stress. I personally find that listening to the news, for example, raises my stress levels easily so I have been limiting that a lot.  My partner at work and I have even made a “no news on the TV” pact at the station, which has helped us both tremendously.

Do you have any suggestions that may help others physically or emotionally? 

My main suggestion that has helped me the most is to try to stay connected with your closest friends and family in some way, whether by phone call, text, or video chat.nSpeak with them as often as you can, especially when you’re feeling emotionally or physically exhausted. 

Find ways to spend time together if you are able. Also, don’t let fear drive your everyday life; although the unknown is and can be very scary regarding our current situation, continue to do things you enjoy as often as you can within reason and following CDC/state guidelines. 

And if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed in any way, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone.

What’s your favorite hockey memory?

My favorite hockey memory would be the first game I attended here locally during the WBS Penguins’ opening season.  I grew up watching a lot of hockey with my dad and was always a huge hockey fan, but the level of excitement and energy that was brought to the arena by our local fans brought my love of hockey to another level.

When hockey returns, what excites you most? 

I can’t wait to get back into the arena and attend games with my closest friends.  I miss the game itself, but also the time spent with friends there.  It’s one of our favorite ways to relax and spend time together after a long day at work during the season, and I truly do miss it.