2020 Shiver Hamilton & Essential Workers Contest Winners

DeAndre Miller

Emergency Medical Technician

What their Nominator said: “DeAndre currently works for AMR in GA, an ambulance company, but he volunteered to help combat COVID-19 in a field hospital in New York as well. He has now been on the frontlines in NY for over a month and half. His life has completely changed. DeAndre and his wife have three children, the youngest being only one year old. It is difficult connecting with DeAndre while he is on the frontlines. DeAndre’s wife expressed that the hardest part was him being away for so long is how much their son loves him and wants him to come home. We all admire his selflessness the most, he has the biggest heart and truly cares about people.”

More about DeAndre: My name is DeAndre Miller, I am 34, and married with 3 beautiful children. I grew up in Miami, then eventually moved to Atlanta, where I joined the military at age 18. Upon getting out of the military, I began my career as an EMT and am continuing my career in that field. As you can see, I enjoy serving my country and community.

DeAndre’s Reaction: “I was truly shocked that I was picked for anything! I called my wife confused because we never have won anything like this. I am truly honored and humbled! I want to thank you all so much for choosing me, it is an honor and a pleasure! I really appreciate it!”

Kaitlyn Bryant

Pediatric Emergency Room Nurse

What their Nominator said: “Kaitlyn is an ER nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and she has come face to face with the devastation of COVID- 19. She has watched children fight for their lives, cared for them, and then goes home to her own two babies. She is scared every second that she is bringing the virus home to her family. Every shift she puts on her scrubs and her surgical hat and heads to work. There she gets her assigned a mask. For a while, it was the same worn out N95 that has been sterilized about 13 times. She never forgets her badge that proudly displays her hard earned RN BSN title. She never forgets to put on a brave face, a smile, and a sense of control over whatever happens to take care of Georgia’s children. Regardless of how scared she is, she still shows up and does an amazing job. She rarely lets her guard down, but she lets me see her cry and falls into my arms with exhaustion and defeat. I pray for her safety and sanity as well as all health care providers and essential employees. They put their fears and emotions aside to go to work and do what they need to do everyday to care for strangers and friends alike. I am in awe of her strength and dedication to her profession.”

More about Kaitlyn: She is a pediatric ER nurse with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. She has worked in the ER for almost four years.If she had to narrow it down to one thing that she enjoys most about her role it’s that the kids are amazing – so resilient and honest. They will tell you they don’t like you for giving them a shot, then five minutes later they are showing you a secret handshake. The ER is exhilarating, fast paced, and where people come on their worst day. As an ER nurse she gets to be a positive in that chaos. Bryant explained that it’s a huge honor to be handed someone’s sick child and be trusted to save their life. Covid19 has not changed the way she practices medicine, she still tickles her patients, gets down on their level, and spends as much time at their bedside as possible. She is thankful to work on the front lines and to make a difference during this pandemic.

Kaitlyn Reaction: It’s funny, I was dropping off a late mothers day gift to my mom when Shiver called. The phone was on speaker and when i heard “Law firm calling” my mom said my face dropped and i had an upset look on my face. I thought to myself “oh lord who is suing me and what for”. My mother got this large grin on her face when she heard what the phone call was regarding. Receiving this recognition before I headed in for my 3pm to 3 am shift was awesome and made my day!

Kaitlyn Bryant with fellow ER nurse Andre Villanueva

Vernell Sams, “Mr. Sams”

Operating Room Aid

What their Nominator said: “’Mr. Sams’ has worked in the OR department for as long as I can remember. He is always smiling and a cheerful transporter and master cleaner. When we have a class A, B, or C inpatient who needs surgery, Mr. Sams is always willing to help. When a case has been completed in the OR, Mr. Sams works hard to help us get these ORs ready for the next patient. The whole department loves working with Mr. Sams. He is always positive, always smiling, and always willing to help us, (the nurses)! We LOVE Mr. Sams! Thank you for honoring an amazing essential hospital worker here at SGHS.”

More about Mr. Sams: Mr. Sams was born, raised, and educated here in Brunswick, GA. When not at work, Mr. Sams loves to travel. When asked what he loves most about his job, he immediately listed several things:

  1. Knowing that he is helping both his coworkers and the patients brings him joy.
  2. He gets to meet lots of different people.
  3. He can help to cheer up those sad, nervous, or lonely patients.
  4. And he loves putting the patient’s first!

Mr. Sams’ Reaction: “To say that I was excited to receive a thank you for my work is an understatement. I always speak to others in a joyful and exuberant manner.  However, today once I realized the nature of your call, I was even more jubilant!  It’s a great feeling to win an award for being such a vital part of our surgical team.  Although I am often a man of few words, my face tends to speak 1000 for me. My team said I was beaming through the entire call and after!”

James Virkler

Cherokee County Deputy Sheriff

What their Nominator said: “James is essential, not only to his County, but to his family. He works tirelessly to serve the public that he has served for almost 19 years, but also he serves his family and community at home as well. While courthouse proceedings have drastically decreased James has served elsewhere by painting holding cells, working in the county jail, and servicing county vehicles. He does his job with integrity and kindness. He has had to transport people and deal with a scared public and elected officials. We think he is the best!”

More about James: He is an upstate NY native originally, and has been in the South since 1996. He has invested the last 18 years of his life at the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, and is currently assigned to the Court Staff division. He loves working at the Justice Center, interacting with the staff and the public. He enjoys building a bridge between the public and the Departments that serve them. He especially loves working with children and showing them that Officers and Deputies are just regular, approachable people too.

James’ Reaction: “I’m very appreciative for the nomination and for being selected in this contest. Thank you to Shiver Hamilton Attorneys and Counselors for taking the time and effort to recognize all essential workers! You make a difference.”

Alisha Wideman

Registered Nurse

What their Nominator said: “Alisha is a full time dedicated registered nurse for Northside Hospital at Atlanta Cancer Care. She spends her days delivering chemotherapy to those who are in one of the hardest times of their lives! She has been working tirelessly throughout this pandemic without any time off to care for her patients. She is our hero!”

More about Alisha: She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and has been a registered nurse for 10 years. She currently works in an outpatient Oncology office. She has been there for 7 years and loves meeting and treating the great patients everyday.

Alisha’s Reaction: “I am truly thankful to be picked for one of the Essential Workers for Shiver Hamilton. What frontline workers do everyday is a joyful and a humbling experience. Everyone I work with has great skills and huge hearts ”