EDITOR'S NOTE: We asked readers to nominate heroes from the community during the coronavirus crisis using our Open Source platform.
ASHLAND — Patricia Long was enjoying an afternoon at home last Friday when her daughter came from an upstairs bedroom to show her a picture.
Long knew her granddaughter, 8-year-old Jada Shambaugh, was occupying herself upstairs, but she didn't know exactly how. The photo on her daughter Rochelle's phone provided an answer: Jada was in the middle of a princess tea party via video chat.
The image brought tears to Long's eyes. She was inspired then to nominate Jada as a "Daily Hero" with Ashland Source, as a person who made a positive impact on her life during the COVID-19 crisis.
Jada and three of her friends "were connected (with help from special moms) via computer and for quite some time they shared a beautiful little girl tea party together," Long wrote in her submission. "They found such joy in being together, being a little girl and they knew they were keeping everyone safe."
An unusually shy Jada told Ashland Source over the phone that she was dressed up as her favorite princess, Snow White. Admittedly, she was more concerned at the time that the phone call had interrupted her lunch and her tater tots were getting cold, but she said she'd enjoyed seeing her friends.
"At least we can get online on the internet," she said.
According to Long, a 20-year veteran of the healthcare industry, Jada is aware why it's important to have princess tea parties over the computer instead of in-person these days. She noted her granddaughter has a greater respect for the disease, and for staying healthy, because Long is severely immunocompromised.
"We have been very open with her. She's not intimidated by it, she's aware that she probably won't get it, but she's very aware that she could carry it," Long said. "Her mom made her a face mask and she asked for special buttons on hers."
Long described Jada as a classic extrovert - spunky and resilient, she's the perfect complement to her 9-year-old brother Nolan, who is more soft-hearted and mellow. Through classmates at Ashland Christian School or at church, Jada has many subsets of friends.
So when Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 8-year-old had to find a creative way to connect with the friends she was missing.
"Jada asked her mom if she could talk to one of her friends on the computer, then they started talking and missed another friend, and Jada had the idea to put on their princess dresses," Long said. "They've also planned a pajama party for this Friday."
The spontaneous moment of pure innocence in a little girl's tea party captured a greater lesson for Long.
"I've watched people argue and complain and bicker over what's right and what's wrong, and in one single moment I witnessed four little girls continue friendship and love in spite of the chaos. They rose above it," Long said.
"They were just resilient to what's going on, and maintained their faith and happiness and endurance and acceptance of being isolated from one another, and instead of begging her parents to see her friends, she worked her way around it. And we can do that, too.
"We could learn a lot from that one picture."