Three PEF members earn achievements and recognition:
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• DEC activist wins NYS recycler of the year
• DOL member slated for statewide award
Randi DiAntonio – (Right) Ms. May 2018 on the 2018 Working Women calendar produced and published by the Workforce Development Institute.
She’s coming to a calendar near you
By SHERRY HALBROOK
Randi DiAntonio needs a big closet to hold all of the hats she wears (figuratively speaking), but the newest one is different than all of the rest. Being an outstanding union activist has earned her the distinction of becoming “Miss May” on the 2018 Working Women calendar produced and published by the Workforce Development Institute.
DiAntonio was one of 14 union women selected by the WDI for inclusion in the 2018 calendar. They were honored November 29 at a reception in Albany.
Thanking WDI for the honor, DiAntonio said she learned the valuable benefits of union membership while growing up in a family where her mother’s membership in New York State United Teachers meant they had health insurance.
“And the reason my father could continue to live at home on his own after Mom died, was because she had been in a union,” DiAntonio added.
She also challenged all of the various union activists at the event to reach beyond their individual silos of interest and unify in mutual solidarity to face the massive challenges to labor that are likely to lie ahead in 2018.
The PEF activist was nominated for this honor by PEF Region 3 Coordinator Colleen Williams who said she never fails to be impressed by DiAntonio’s energy, determination and readiness to get involved and make good things happen for PEF members and for clients at the state’s Fingerlakes Developmental Disabilities Services Office where she is a licensed master social worker 2.
Among the many other PEF hats DiAntonio wears are: Executive Board member, Division 259 council leader, steward and delegate, and PEF co-chair of the Joint Labor-Management Committee for the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
“Randi works daily with close to 600 PEF members to educate, organize and represent the members in her division,” Williams said. “Over the past decade, she has fought layoffs and cuts to services. Randi takes pride in cultivating a new generation of union leaders at her workplace.”
In her remarks at the WDI reception, Williams said the sight of DiAntonio walking her two rescued dogs (including a 90-lb pit bull) after work, is emblematic of DiAntonio’s caring and can-do spirit.
Taking an award-winning bite out of waste
By SHERRY HALBROOK
PEF member Gary Feinland was enjoying the last few bites of his dessert at a luncheon November 9, the last day of the annual conference held by the NYS Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR3), and listening as the speaker described the winner of the organization’s 2017 award for Public Sector Recyler of the Year.
“I thought what they were saying sounded vaguely like what I do on my job,” Feinland said, “but I was very surprised to learn they actually were talking about me. I had no idea my colleagues at the state Department of Environmental Conservation had nominated me for the award.”
It was the first time since 2008 that a state employee had won the award. That employee was Brenda Grober, also a PEF member, who works at Empire State Development.
The public sector award is given for “job-related actions (that) have significantly reduced solid waste or have furthered waste prevention, reuse, recycling and/or composting.” And that also pretty well describes what Feinland does, day in and day out for the people of New York state.
An environmental program specialist 2, Feinland is active on many levels in preventing needless waste, encouraging reuse and especially the recycling and composting of organic materials such as food scraps and yard trimmings.
Feinland also focuses on recovering food that might otherwise be wasted.
“I chair the NYS Food Recovery Campaign that encourages reducing wasted and increasing food donations,” he said.
Feinland said he is part of a multi-agency team that works to implement the governor’s Executive Order 4, which directs all state agencies to develop and use environmentally sustainable practices.
“The secret to my success has been collaboration,” Feinland said, “collaborating with co-workers, colleagues at other state agencies and at NYSAR3.” He credited their great ideas, cooperation and commitment as a key element in achieving ambitious goals that serve the community, the state and the environment.
He also could add school kids (maybe even your own) to that list of collaborators, because visiting schools on and around Earth Day, April 22, is something he looks forward to all year.
“It’s one of my joys to visit classrooms. I take my wormy composting bin with me and when I open it up, the students gather around and they are always excited to see the worms working,” Feinland said.
The real secret to composting and creating good, rich soil, from such things as grass clippings, leaves, weeds, thinned garden plants, used paper, straw and table scraps, he added, is what you can’t see without a microscope.
“It’s all about the micro-organisms and the fungi,” Feinland said. “And because they are living, they need air and moisture and a good mix of green and brown nutrients in the compost mix. When you start to create rich soil, the worms will come to it on their own.”
Beyond educating school children and the public about composting, “I got a program going of composting of used paper, food scraps and other organic material in the state office building where I work at 625 Broadway in Albany,” Feinland said. “I started with DEC, and then we added the other three state agencies with offices there.” More than 1,500 people work in the building.
To learn how you can compost your yard trimmings and kitchen scraps, Feinland suggests you check out the Cornell video on home composting at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/11313 and the state DEC’s information at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/8799.html.
Or you may access the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s advice online at https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.
Great public service, volunteerism earns PEF steward recognition from management
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Fasina Baptiste, a PEF Division 245 steward and labor services representative at the state Department of Labor in New York City was selected to be part of DOL’s public relations campaign – #FacesOfDOL.
While her nomination to be a part of this Facebook campaign is a bit mysterious, as she does not know and has yet to meet the individual who submitted her name, it is perfectly clear as to why someone would want to honor her.
Baptiste considers herself as a behind-the-scenes person who said she commits to personal excellence in all aspects of her life.
“That really goes a long way to engage people in a positive way,” she said. “I find it quite remarkable that I was selected for this. You never know who is watching, listening, observing and paying attention to whatever you are doing.”
During her eight years with DOL, Baptiste received dozens of emails from people thanking her for things such as “amazing support and professionalism,” or “valuable assistance during a stressful time.”
“My favorite part about working at DOL is being able to meet, interview and assist a wide and diverse population of NYC workers. I’ve had the unique experience of interviewing individuals in occupations ranging from circus clowns to surgeons and learning something new from all of them,” Baptiste said.
This past July, Baptiste embraced another unique experience, as a volunteer in Leon, Nicaragua, where she supported a medical team in an outdoor clinic for ten days.
“I’ve done volunteer work with the Red Cross, but this experience was amazing and so very rewarding. I have some para-professional medical training so I did massages on people with the chiropractic team, and therapeutic taping on pregnant women and others who were in pain from lifting and carrying heavy objects. We worked as a team in an outside tent. It was astonishing it did not rain, until the day we left and the tent was down.”
Baptiste said before the bus rolled into Leon on the first day, nearly 150 people were standing in line under a hot sun, waiting to see the team of medical professionals. On one day, they treated 500 people.
“It was a priceless and transformative experience. I hope to do more of this,” Baptiste said. “People have helped me grow to this point, but there is something inside that urges you to volunteer. I don’t stop to think about it. I just fly by the seat of my pants. That’s the type of girl I am.”