A message from Tyson Foods Director of Chaplain Services Karen Diefendorf
Over the last week, we lost five of our team members to COVID-19. The wave of sadness that has spread across our company is real, and while we can’t hug each other or cry on each other’s shoulders right now, we are holding these families up in our prayers, including our Tyson family.
We call our employees “team members” but I don’t really like that description. We’re not team members to each other. We are family. Of course, a lot of companies say that, but having worked and prayed alongside so many of our people at every level and location, it is one thing I know for sure.
We lost five of our family members, and when families lose a loved one, they suffer together. They also heal together, and as I write this, I am also bearing witness to a renewed vigilance and moral courage among our people to do everything they can to protect themselves and each other. I hope this gives some semblance of comfort to these families.
As a country, so many of us are grieving — for the lives lost, and in so many other ways. The grief is real to families whose children won’t experience high school graduations, proms, birthdays and holidays. Even mundane things like going out for a cup of coffee, striking up a conversation at the dog park, enjoying a meal with friends. None of these compare to the loss of a life but they are felt and mourned. People need people.
What we need more than anything right now are safe workplaces where people feel protected. As we’ve implemented stringent safety policies across our company, including at our plants and facilities, I’m sometimes called upon for prayers. For example, after teams worked tirelessly to secure more protective face coverings, there were no commercial flights available to transport them. Ever resilient, we decided to charter our own flights, only to have them grounded. When the head of our transportation team shared the news with our leaders on a webcast, the frustration turned to tears for several. Shortly thereafter, we got word the coverings were on their way. This time the prayers were of thanks.
So many people are working tirelessly across the company to keep our people safe, but today we pause to remember our five family members. We are grieving. We will get through this, as families do. As one Tyson.