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Focusing on gratitude, making an impact

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For a couple of weeks, the Education Association of Passaic (EAP) has been thinking of many ways to give back to our community and first responders, but also display our love and appreciation for their hard work and dedication.  So, the EAP began to rethink how they will use its PRIDE in Public Education grants from NJEA and developed a three-phase plan to accomplish these goals.

In our first phase, we decided to focus on gratitude during this difficult time and provided our first responders with some essential supplies. We began by delivering food to Saint Mary’s Hospital employees and then dropped off gallons of hand sanitizer, gloves, masks and meals for our Passaic Police Department.

This was a group effort, and thanks to our PRIDE chairperson, Selina Lawson, as well as Beverly Giordano Carey and Elena Pinto for making it possible.  We also had an army of volunteers, including Passaic County EA President Sue Butterfield, Richard McWilliams, Sheila Graham Woodson, Juan Izzguirre and Ryan Contaldi.  Without them, these deliveries couldn’t have been made.

Our second phase focused on the needs of our union brothers and sisters in the Passaic fire department.  We continued to show our appreciation for their efforts by delivering gallons of hand sanitizers, gloves and masks to ensure they remain safe and healthy during this difficult time.

Again, this couldn’t be done without volunteers willing to give their time to the cause, and I want to thank Kevin Connors for joining Sue, Richard, Juan and Ryan in this effort.

Phase three focused on our continued efforts to provide assistance to our community residents. The EAP teamed up with Cuellar ShopRite of Passaic/Clifton on Paulison Ave to provide a grocery bag filled with non-perishable food items to our families in need.  In addition to the funds we used from PRIDE, Shoprite matched the EAP, dollar for dollar, making it possible to provide our community with even more necessary pantry staples.

Recognizing that food-insecure Passaic students and families need to be able to count on these items to be successful, the EAP is proud to share that we will be keeping the third phase of our plan going for the next three weeks at the feeding stations throughout the city.

We encourage any who knows of a specific family in need to have one of their district teachers reach out to the EAP to learn how they can access these good.

Again, without our PRIDE chair, Shelia Lawson and her efforts in coordinating this effort with ShopRite, as well as the EAP First Vice President Karen Cawthern for volunteering her time, this would not have been possible.  All of our leaders and volunteers emulate what it means to be a union member, and I am proud to represent them now and every day.