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Maryland’s Sign Gypsies recognize ‘Heroes’ working at Upper Chesapeake hospital in Bel Air

Yard signs along Rt. 24 in Bel Air in front of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center spell out a supportive message to those healthcare workers at the hospital Monday morning.
Yard signs along Rt. 24 in Bel Air in front of the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center spell out a supportive message to those healthcare workers at the hospital Monday morning. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Workers at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air were greeted with a surprise Monday when they came to work. Large letters spelling out the words “Heroes Work Here” had been positioned in front of the hospital’s signage along Route 24.

It was the work of sisters Sandy Boyd, of Baldwin, and Melinda Meginnis, of Fallston, who own Maryland’s only Sign Gypsies affiliate.

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Boyd said it was important to do something to recognize doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers and everyone else working at the hospital during the trying times of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everybody wants to give back in some way,” she said. “Since Upper Chesapeake in our backyard, we thought we would start there and give them a thank you.”

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Sign Gypsies is a Texas-based company with more than 400 affiliates nationwide that create customized yard greetings. The motto of Sign Gypsies, Boyd said, is to spread joy.

“Some people are delivering lunches; people are making masks,” Boyd said. “This is what we can do.”

Martha Mallonee, a spokesperson for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, said the sisters posted the sign as a surprise to workers; it was not organized by the hospital.

“Our team was very touched,” Mallonee said.

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Since the “Heroes Work Here” sign went up, people have reached out to Boyd thanking her and she’s received letters and calls from hospital staff, including some “higher-ups,” she said, “telling us what a morale booster this is.”

She said she’d like to place similar signs at other hospitals and medical facilities as the pandemic goes on.

Boyd also learned from a hospital employee that HERO is an acronym used frequently at Upper Chesapeake Health. It stands for “Highly Engaged and Reliable Organization," Mallonee said.

“’I can’t believe, just by chance, that’s what you guys put up,’” Boyd said the employee told her and her sister. “That gave us chills. Like it was meant to be.”

Boyd works full-time as a librarian/media specialist at Baltimore County Public Schools, although she’s been on medical leave since the fall, but decided to become a Sign Gypsies affiliate after a friend who had recently moved to Kansas City started sharing photos of the signs out there.

When Boyd got online to learn more, she discovered there were no affiliates in Maryland and decided to give it a shot herself.

Boyd and Meginnis started in October with their first set-up for Boyd’s daughter’s homecoming at Fallston High School. People saw the signs, which are made of corrugated plastic, in pictures on social media and originally thought they were photo filters, Boyd said.

Since the are the only affiliate in the state, Marylanders still aren’t especially familiar with the yard sign concept, Boyd said, but social media has helped spread the word. The sisters do about 12 to 15 signs a month, which start at $75 for a 24-hour rental.

Placing the sign at Upper Chesapeake has given her Sign Gypsies affiliate some additional exposure, although that was not the intention, she said.

“The way we felt about the hospital, people are feeling that way about their loved ones and friends; people are starting to think of these signs as a way to help people through these hard times,” Boyd said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article included a misspelling of a name. It has been updated to include accurate information.

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