BOISE, Idaho — Back in April, KTVB's Maggie O'Mara brought us a story of a local business owner responsible for the signs popping up at hospitals, medical centers, health clinics, and COVID-19 testing sites here in the Treasure Valley. They honor our healthcare workers with the phrase "Heroes Work Here."
The signs got a lot of attention on social media. Doctors, nurses, CNAs, paramedics, nutrition workers, janitorial staff, and just about everyone working at a hospital or a testing site felt thankful for the recognition.
We tracked down the local woman who put the signs up in the middle of the night to surprise these hardworking and dedicated professionals. Renee Ellis of Nampa is the owner of a small business called Sign Gypsies Boise.
"I have been in the valley for three years just setting up happiness and putting parties in people's yards to celebrate anything, anything you send a card for, we can put that up in your yard! Love being involved in the community and spreading a little joy where I can," Ellis said. "I tell people I put a little piece of my heart into every greeting that I set up."
Eight months after Ellis initially set up the signs for the healthcare workers, she is still surprising them as COVID-19 cases dramatically spike.
Ellis said she had a garage filled with letters, graphics, and numbers. She usually puts up birthday, graduation, or new baby announcements on lawns, but this is something different. It’s something that really touches her heart.
"We were faced with this pandemic, and we have healthcare people who are really putting themselves on the line. I have health care workers in my family, and so this really hits home to me," she explained.
Ellis wanted to thank nurse Claudia Sanders at Saint Alphonsus, and the other healthcare employees who helped her collaborate with medical facility locations and their administrations. It takes a village to pull something like this off.
She snuck around before the sun came up, setting up these touching signs to honor heroes at medical facilities across the valley.
Kristin Reese, a nurse at Saint Alphonsus in Boise, saw one of the signs in front of the hospital last and snapped a photo.
"We came into work and we were welcomed by this really amazing sign that said heroes work here," Reese said. "I had to take a picture because it just meant so much that somebody would take some time out and just recognize the healthcare providers that are out there right now. I just wanted to tell somebody thank you! And I didn't know who to thank for that!"
Ellis has set up “Heroes Work Here” signs at over a dozen locations to inspire the people working day in, and day out to fight the coronavirus.
"They are 100% donated," she said. "That's just my way of giving back to the Treasure Valley."
Putting up the signs brings her joy, knowing the smiles she is bringing to these heroes.
"I can't say thank you enough, this is my way to express the way the whole community feels, they are heroes," Ellis said. "I'll just keep on going! If there's something I can do to lift people up, I'm all for that!"
Watch more '7's Hero'
See all of the heartwarming segments in our YouTube playlist here: