The E-T is hosting a contest in which residents are asked to nominate their favorite local Everyday Hero who can be involved in any capacity of everyday life — everything from healthcare workers to community volunteers to grocery store clerks and everything in between — who have made an impact on others. The overall Everyday Hero winner, to be decided by vote of E-T readers, will receive a $100 gift card.
Over the next few weeks, the E-T will be spotlighting nominees. The current Everyday Hero nominee is Kiela Whitten of Stephenville.
To say she’s a “busy woman” would be a complete understatement.
Whitten, 30, is a single mother to her 7-year-old daughter Shiloh and has been employed at Erath County EMS as a full paramedic for close to seven years.
She recently graduated from Texas Tech with her undergraduate degree in healthcare management. She got accepted into grad school at Texas Tech and will be attending their school of biomedical sciences for her master in public health degree.
Whitten has been teaching CPR to hundreds of area residents for six years and is a small business owner of Awe Shucks LLC, a food truck that specializes in corn roasting.
“It’s funny how that came to be,” Whitten said. “I found a book on Amazon. It was called ‘Everything You Need to Know About the Corn Roasting Business.’ Everybody at the station was like ‘You are not serious.’ I said ‘I'm serious. I think I can do this.’
“At Cook Children’s they hire nurses and paramedics whenever it’s peak time for sick kids. I went and worked a six-month contract for them. I saved every penny from it and bought this food truck. Initially, a lot of people made fun of it and now it’s super popular. It’s not something I thought I would ever do, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Whitten also started the Face Masks for Erath Facebook group – even though she can’t sew.
“I don’t sew but I'm good at being bossy,” she said, with a laugh. “With the mask shortage, we weren’t hit with as hard [in Erath County] because we didn’t have COVID as much here in this area, but I do work places where COVID directly impacted their ability to get PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).”
Whitten works for Hood County EMS as well and noticed that a sister group that supplies face masks for Hood County was handing out masks to the counties’ hospital and nursing homes. She decided to start a Facebook group for Erath County.
“Our initial goal was to provide healthcare providers with face mask covers but then once we took care of our healthcare providers, we extended our reach to any employee or volunteer in the county,” she said. “We have made over 3,000 masks in a little over a month. It has been such an outpouring from the community, just so much love, from young to old.”
Whitten said she loves being a part of this community and loves giving back when she can.
“We are getting bigger, but there’s still a family feel and that’s what I love about our community and I love being a part of it for that reason – because it’s the good ole hometown,” she said. “Some people go their whole life and never get to experience that. That’s a really cool thing about our community, that we’re big enough that we’re getting a Wendy’s, but we’re not so big that we've lost that family and hometown feel, that sense of community.”