xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Finksburg chimney company recognizing people working during COVID-19 pandemic with ‘a special shoutout’

The Ash Away Chimney Services staff, from left: Dennis Dell, owner and retired firefighter; Travis Hatin, chimney technician; Ariel Jackson, chimney technician and professional firefighter; Cliff Lanham, chimney technician and professional firefighter. Not pictured: Jessica Dell, office manager, and Steven Dell, chimney technician.
The Ash Away Chimney Services staff, from left: Dennis Dell, owner and retired firefighter; Travis Hatin, chimney technician; Ariel Jackson, chimney technician and professional firefighter; Cliff Lanham, chimney technician and professional firefighter. Not pictured: Jessica Dell, office manager, and Steven Dell, chimney technician. (Courtesy Photo/Jessica Dell)

The idea to recognize the unsung essential workers came to Jessica Dell in a somewhat familiar position.

Dell is the office manager at Ash Away Chimney Services in Finksburg, which is owned by her husband Dennis Dell and employs a crew of local firefighters as chimney technicians. She remembers last month feeling a little helpless in the first days of the coronavirus pandemic, with her business finding its usual work.

Advertisement

“I wanted to do more, but I couldn’t,” Dell said. "My kids are out working, my husband is out working. I occasionally have to go out, but I was sitting home and it was just so depressing that I couldn’t do more. What can I do for the people that have to go out there?

“They really deserve a spotlight, because they’re keeping things running while the rest of us are working at home. I happened to be literally standing on a roof at a job when the idea hit me. ... Look, I have a platform, why don’t I reach out?”

Advertisement

Dell said she posted on her personal Facebook page and asked friends if they wanted to share photos of essential workers as a way to recognize them for their efforts in a time of crisis. A few responses came in, but soon Dell was managing more than she bargained for. And she loved it.

“I’d like to give them a special shoutout,” Dell said, “like their own special day.”

Auto mechanics, mass transit workers, farmers, truck drivers, postal workers — Dell said different photos of these workers came pouring in. The next part of her idea was to use Ash Away’s Facebook page to share the pictures, and she decided to do one for every day of April except for Easter Sunday and this past weekend.

Each post is complete with the hashtags “no negativity” and “lift each other up series.”

“We’ve reached 6,500 people this month. That’s mind-blowing,” said Dell, who found it hard to believe when she was recently notified via Facebook Messenger of her company’s page data.

“Oh my God, we’re a chimney sweep company, you know what I mean? Not really exciting,” she said. “[But] people are so appreciative. I think people really like it. ... It’s kind of giving a little plug to, hey, if you need it they’re still there. They’re small businesses so they need help too.”

This past week, Ash Away featured on its Facebook page a telecommunications worker from Texas, a state government employee from Maryland, a FedEx delivery driver from Pennsylvania, and a tug boat captain who works along the East Coast.

And there’s more to come.

Dell said Ash Away isn’t getting any extra business from its social media experiment. And that’s fine by her.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say no to business,” Dell said. “But I love that the PR that we’re getting from that is all, ‘Hey, can you post this?’ or, ‘Hey, will you put this picture up?’ Not, ‘Hey, are you guys busy and can we get a chimney sweep?’ I’m all about that, that’s fantastic.”

Dennis Dell spent 27 years as a firefighter in Anne Arundel County before recently retiring, Jessica Dell said. Ash Away Chimney Services has been in business since 1999, and Dell said two of her chimney technicians are current Anne Arundel County firefighters.

They know the importance of being an essential worker, Dell said. That’s why she’s taking time to showcase as many similar people in the workforce as she can.

Advertisement

“Nurses, doctors, firefighters, policemen, they’re pretty obvious,” Dell said. “But you’ve got these other people ... remember these people, they’re unsung. That’s kind of what I was shooting for. As long as people keep sending me pictures, I will keep posting.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement