ALBANY, N.Y. April 6, 2020 — New York State United Teachers today announced that it has begun accepting donations to the union’s Disaster Relief Fund to purchase and provide personal protective equipment, food and other supplies to dedicated health care professionals across New York state.
“The heroism of NYSUT’s health care professionals and their colleagues working on the front lines during this crisis is as inspiring as it is remarkable,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “It is incumbent upon all of us to show our support and gratitude as these professionals very literally put their own lives on the line to care for us. Donating to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund will help enhance the safety and security of our brave and selfless health care professionals.”
The NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, depends on voluntary donations. Information about how to make a donation can be found at nysut.org/disasterrelief.
The fund is an important component of NYSUT’s social justice work to assist communities in need. Since its creation in 2005, the fund has issued more than 4,200 grants totaling $2.3 million to assist with disaster relief efforts in communities in New York and around the country.
“Improving unsafe working conditions is a social justice issue. And social justice work is union work,” said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer J. Philippe Abraham, who leads the union’s social justice work and chairs the Disaster Relief Fund. “We need to do our part to help right the wrong of our health care workers risking their lives because they do not have adequate access to the personal protective equipment they need. By donating to the fund, we can help improve the working conditions of our members and their colleagues during this extremely difficult and dangerous time.”
To further show support for health care professionals, the union also has launched the #HealthCareHeroes campaign in support of those on the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic. The union is calling on its members and the public to take a photo of themselves with a short message for health care professionals and post it to social media to reach these hardworking men and women not only in their areas, but across New York state.
Those interested in getting involved with the #HealthCareHeroes campaign should:
- Write a message of thanks and/or encouragement for health care professionals on a note card and take a selfie with it.
- If you’re a parent who is home with your children, have them write their own notes. It’s a great way for them to practice their writing skills and their handwriting, as well.
- Post messages of gratitude to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, along with the hashtag #HealthCareHeroes, and tag @nysut.
- Get creative. Have fun. It’s a simple message, but an important one.
The union has created a web portal for these supportive posts and for union members to share their own stories about how they’re getting involved during this pandemic.
“The sacrifice on the part of our health care members and their fellow professionals has been limitless,” said NYSUT Second Vice President Paul Pecorale, who oversees the union’s health care professionals. “They need our support now, more than ever.”
NYSUT also has issued information regarding how to donate personal protective equipment to the health care institutions that so desperately need masks, surgical gowns and other essential items right now. NYSUT members interested in collecting such items from their school or university are urged to first connect with school administrators and then connect with county officials to determine where donations can be distributed properly.
“As unionists, helping working people in need is what we do,” NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene T. DiBrango said. “We’re incredibly proud of the NYSUT members who already have begun organizing PPE donations and encourage others to join them to assist our brothers and sisters in health care who need our help.”
NYSUT represents more than 16,000 health care professionals, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, clinical instructors, psychologists, guidance counselors, school counselors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physicians, pharmacists and lab technicians. These professionals are employed in public and private sector schools, hospitals, universities, visiting nurse associations, private practice, and residential and day treatment facilities.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.