City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Gratitude for Those Not Home for Holidays

We Count on Them to Keep Us Safe

Article by Brian Mc Vey

Photography by Sarah Brooke Lyons

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

Penny Coats is an “on-call” hospice nurse and case manager working for Embrace Hospice. She works on-call tending to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. Most of Penny’s patients are in the memory care unit, which means they have dementia or other mental and physical issues. Penny’s hands-on work branches far beyond simply providing excellent physical care for her patients. Her calm, attentive presence and unwavering spirit of compassion create an incredible bond of trust between patient and caregiver.   

She chose this career to find her faith and use this gift for others to see in her daily journey of helping patients find comfort and peace throughout their end-of-life journey. Penny also plays a crucial role in helping educate and support family caregivers as they adjust to their new role.

I asked Penny how she copes with dealing with the loss of these patients in the (near) future. Penny stated that her husband Eric is her rock and is incredibly supportive of her career. They do everything together. Penny finds incredible solace in being outside working on their farm feeding the cows, chickens, ducks, and other animals. She recently assisted in delivering a baby calf. 

Richard Gonzalez is a Sergeant with the Fair Oaks Police Department. He is a proud Texan, growing up on the West Side of San Antonio happy to have escaped the harsh realities that plague that part of San Antonio. Sgt. Gonzalez has worked with the Department for more than eight years and expressed the importance of working the midnight shift with this comment, “I want the citizens of Fair Oaks to know that our goal is to protect them while they are sleeping.” He also stated the importance of staying vigilant because crime is everywhere, regardless of household income or neighborhood. Working the midnight shift for many can be stressful, but not for Sgt. Gonzalez. He has grown accustomed to staying vigilant because no call is the same, whether it’s an alarm-to-home call, a vehicle pursuit call, or an accident with injuries. 

I asked Sgt. Gonzalez how he copes with the enormity of the job. He stated, “My health and wellness are paramount to me!” I come into work an hour early to get my workouts in -- a great start to my workday.” Sgt. Gonzalez also loves spending time with family and friends. “I really enjoy getting away by going fishing in places like Corpus or Colorado."

Jason Abbott is a Police Dispatcher and 911 call-taker. He has a unique background of also being a Boerne Police Officer. Jason has over 32 years of service in law enforcement. The Dispatcher role gives him the unique ability to understand quickly what is needed for his officers out on the street. Jason is truly a first responder because he is the first person to talk to those in a crisis.      

For those reading this, dispatchers and call-takers have an incredibly stressful job. That job is answering those calls and talking to people on the worst days of their lives. Jason stated, “You must have thick skin to do this job, while also having a sense of humor. However, the job of a call-taker can gnaw at your soul because you don’t get to know or see the outcomes of many of the calls."   

Jason then spoke about the best moments of his law enforcement career: being with officers over the years, his days as a School Resource Officer, and one incredible chance encounter he had at the hospital. On that specific call, Jason had the pleasure of meeting with this nurse Karla, who later became his bride. The pride that Jason has for the City of Boerne and the community is in his DNA. In January, Jason will be officially retiring from the City.   

These three are reasons to be grateful. Take time out in your day to be thankful for those protecting us -  from all our first responders to the wonderful caretakers in hospice.  

  • Jason Abbott
  • Sgt. Richard Gonzalez
  • Penny Coats