The statewide union teamed up with the Capital District Area Labor Federation for its third annual day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16. The event took place at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, near NYSUT headquarters, where volunteers sorted and packed produce and other items for the area’s needy.
“As Dr. King stated, ‘Life's most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?’” said J. Philippe Abraham, NYSUT secretary treasurer, whose office oversees the union’s social justice work. “In honor of Dr. King's 94th birthday, our labor siblings in the labor movement joined together with allies from civil rights, community and faith groups to answer that call by volunteering their time to help those within our communities who are in need.
“This is important work, and this is union work,” continued Abraham. “NYSUT is proud to continue the legacy of Dr. King through our commitment to community service.”
Shenendehowa Teachers Association member Alicia Bowman, a third grade teacher at Karigon Elementary School in Clifton Park, volunteered her time because she “likes to give back.” She spent her shift unpacking and sorting through donated boxes of produce separating the good from the spoiled. “The inedible produce was sorted out for an area farm to feed the pigs so it was really nice to see that circle of use,” said Bowman, who later discussed her work with her students as a teachable moment.
“We talked about Dr. King’s legacy and I asked them to share a dream that they would like to create,” she said. “I told them about my dream of helping the homeless and the hungry. I like knowing that those in need can go to the food bank for help and that my work helps alleviate hunger.”
Albany Public School Teachers Association President Laura Franz helped promote the event among her membership. “I’m proud of APSTA members like Julie Yanson who, with her sons, worked side by side with other unionists to honor Dr. King's memory through service,” said Franz. “We were happy to partner with labor, in particular the Capital District Area Labor Federation, this MLK day to address food insecurity in our community.”