North Arlington Education Association members knew they wanted to help. The question was how. The who was an easy answer. Several members have loved ones working the front lines as first responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers. The next questions were a little more difficult, what and where?

NAEA’s executive board went back and forth on a few different ways they could donate and help. However, the answer became clear when President Dan Farinola, a Physical Education teacher and Coach, received an email, from a t-shirt vendor that he uses as a coach, that was selling washable masks with a few different options.  One mask with the American Flag on it would be the perfect donation for our heroes on the front line.  The executive board were all in agreement right away. This just felt right.  

“We knew that our local wanted to do something for our local community, as well as, our first line workers all over the area,” said Farinola.  “I am Coach at North Arlington High School and the vendor that I use for t-shirts sent a flyer of his company supplying masks during this time of need.  Once I saw the patriotic mask, I thought it was so fitting for all of our heroes around the state who are battling this pandemic.” 

 Masks were ordered and soon delivered to Farinola’s house and NAEA members were to disperse them to a few different locations.  After polling members, the data showed that there were a few connections at different hospitals.  Once the team took note of the locations, the masks were divided up, and sent to each local member with the connection. The members were asked to take photos of themselves delivering their masks to the locations where their loved ones worked and to show off their new masks. NAEA had member connections with five hospitals in four different counties and frontline workers in North Arlington, handing out 100 reusable masks to each location.  

Here’s how those member connections played out: Two member connections were made to two different hospitals in Bergen County.  One of the high school Physical Education teacher’s husband is a chef at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck.  He happily brought them in handing them out to his team and other frontline workers in the hospital.  The second connection is the high school principal’s wife is a nurse at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack and she gladly accepted our donation.  

More member connections were made in Essex County in Clara Mass Medical Center, located in Belleville.  The Senior Options Coordinator and Community Based Instruction teacher uses Clara Mass throughout the year for assignments for the Career Readiness Program and was able to drop off masks with his contact there.

In Hudson County, a childhood friend of Farinola, Officer Gerbasio’s mother is a school nurse at Secaucus Public Schools who has been volunteering for COVID-19 testing at Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus.  He was happy to bring them to his mother at work and only asked that he could have a few masks for himself and his partners at the Port Authority Police Department.  

The last member connection to a hospital is Farinola’s wife, a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, and she was able to hand them out to various different positions at the hospital.

Lastly, NAEA members were happy to support their local essential workers in North Arlington.  The last 100 masks were dropped off at the North Arlington Police Department. “We are so happy to assist in such a small way and felt so rewarded when we received so many positive messages from the heroes who put on these masks and fight for us,” said Farinola.

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