Union County is one of New Jersey’s hardest hit for positive cases of COVID-19. First responders and health care workers pour into the county’s hospitals and medical centers to the applause and cheers of a grateful community, as another shift grasps the baton in what seems to be a never-ending stream of patients in need of care.
Organizations throughout the Township of Union have been making sure that the workers have hot and fresh meals daily, particularly at four key sites within the community. The Union Township Education Association (UTEA) is proud to be one of the organizations taking care of essential workers at the coronavirus testing center on the Kean University campus and at the township’s police, fire and public works departments.
“This is one of those moments when we as a community must do all we can for each other,” said Ann-Margaret Shannon, president of the Union Township Education Association. “There is no way to really ever express how grateful we are to our first responders, and our health care and essential workers, but we can start with a ‘thank you’ and some lunch. We hope that everyone can stay safe and healthy.”
In addition to the food, everyone received a personal bottle of hand sanitizer donated by UTEA and funded through an NJEA Pride in Public Education grant. The UTEA also shared its appreciation for two local eateries, Cozy Corner and Cioffi’s Restaurant, for working with the local association at these events.
Sen. Joseph Cryan, a strong advocate of public workers, joined the UTEA at the Kean University COVID testing site.
“We are also grateful that Sen. Cryan was able to join us today,” said Richard D’Avanzo, vice president of UTEA. “This is not an easy time right now, and it’s nice to know that we can always count on him to support public workers.”
Like school districts throughout the nation, Township of Union Public Schools had to act quickly to get distance learning up and running for its students.
“We are so proud of how quickly and efficiently our UTEA members were able to set up their ‘classrooms’ and be ready to go for our students once we were notified that we would begin remote teaching,” Shannon said. “This distance learning has certainly been a team effort from our IT staff making sure students’ Chromebooks were operative, to our members distributing breakfasts and lunches, and all our members just making it work for our students and their families. I’m very proud of them.”