Hudson Valley locals: 'Freezin' for a reason'
Fifteen members of the Hudson Valley United Polar Plunge Team braved 20-degree temperatures and took the plunge recently at Glen Island Park in New Rochelle. The team was "Freezin' for a reason," as it raised nearly $7,000 for the Hudson Valley Special Olympics. Carmel TA's Mark Tucci called the experience "the hardest thing I've ever done! The weather was brutal ... wind whipping, feet frozen with ice, but a great cause."
Participants came from Carmel Teachers Association, Yorktown Congress of Teachers, Hastings TA and Bronxville TA. The brave souls included Janine Gibney, Seth Altman, Annie Catalano, Maria Circosta, Andrea Devarie, Gus Egan, Gillian Garzia, Dimitri Giatrakis, Sean Kennedy, Nate Morgan, Michelle Purpura, Steve Rome, Jennifer Stroud and Tyler Stroud. Tucci was the event's leading individual fundraiser.
Special Olympics provides year-round sporting activities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Tonawanda Education Association
Each year, the 190-member Tonawanda EA holds dress-down days on Fridays to raise money for community needs. Members wear Tonawanda EA apparel, showing the faces of the union.
This year, money went to families of students where a parent died; last year the union made a contribution for funeral expenses to help out the children in a family where both parents died within two days of each other. The local also donates annually to the Boys and Girls Club, and to the National Honor Society to help purchase warm clothes and toys for a holiday program hosted at the high school for underprivileged elementary children.
"We have committed to donating 100 percent of dress-down contributions to charitable causes in the city," said Ron Sesnie, local EA president who teaches Regents and AP physics, adding that any member can nominate a cause. "We have made one exception where we sent funds to NYSUT's disaster relief last year to help our downstate brothers and sisters who were affected adversely by Hurricane Sandy."
The local, which includes teachers, teacher assistants and school nurses, has many members who go above and beyond for students. "We view this as a career, not just a job. Making personal connections to students by providing some of the physical needs for them is part of who we are, in addition to providing for their educational, social and emotional needs," Sesnie said.
Is there a local union project, outreach effort or event you'd like to see featured in NYSUT United? Local leaders should send information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include LIA in the subject line.