Speaker Quinn and Council Members Honor 1199 SEIU Home Care Workers For *Exemplary And Selfless Service*
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New York Council Speaker Christine Quinn Honors
Workers Hail From All Five Boroughs Of New York City
(NEW YORK) New York Council Speaker Christine Quinn today honored and awarded proclamations to five 1199 SEIU home care workers for their tireless dedication and service to aging New Yorkers all over the city. The Homecare division is one of the largest and fastest growing divisions in 1199, and the honorees have been singled out for their exemplary and selfless service in their care for those that can no longer care for themselves.
"Homecare workers, who provide quality care and restore dignity to the lives of homebound and elderly New Yorkers, are unsung heroes in our City" said Speaker Quinn. "Each of these five workers has shown herself to be a true servant of the public by endlessly sacrificing her own time for others. I'm extremely pleased that the Council is honoring them and their service today. In doing so, we highlight the sacrifice and hard work of every homecare worker."
"These five women exemplify the best of the fastest growing part of the healthcare industry and set the benchmark for which all of our members strive," said George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. "Many of them started off working as homecare workers simply to make a living and provide for their families, but - like many of our members - fell in love with their jobs because the services they provide are about one thing; helping those in need."
The honorees, one of whom comes from each of New York City's five boroughs, represent as diverse a group as the city itself. They are Sau-Way Chen Koo, Juana Alvarez, Adela Simone, Elena Safanova, and Verna Campbell. (Brief bios and descriptions of the work they do are below).
"I have spent more than a quarter of a century in this field, and I'm happy to say that we're beginning to get the respect we deserve - but we still have a long way to go," said Verna Campbell, who works at Stella Orton Homecare Agency in Staten Island. "What Speaker Quinn and the Council has done for me and my colleagues today means so much and I feel privileged to be honored with my four colleagues and the tens of thousands of other homecare workers all across the city."
Sau-Way Chen Koo - This 12-year veteran of the homecare industry was the first employee of Chinese descent at St. Nicholas Human Support Corporation in Manhattan. Sau-Way obtained her home attendant certification in 1993 and patently waited three years - making due as a garment worker in the meantime - until a position became available. Since she started working with the elderly at St. Nicholas in 1996, several dozen Chinese homecare workers have joined the agency.
Juana Alvarez - Juana, an immigrant from Honduras, originally started working as a home attendant a dozen years ago as a way to pay the bills, but later committed her life to being a caregiver after serving a single elderly client for five years. She obtained an associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Hofstra Community College and has been working at Puerto Rican Home Attendants in the Bronx for 12 years.
Adela Simone - Adela's story is an inspiration to all homecare workers. A breast-cancer survivor herself, Adela committed herself to homecare work, particularly with children, after a quadriplegic child she cared for in his home for five years passed away. She has been working for nine years in Queens and is now at the Sunnyside Homecare Project.
Elena Safanova - Elena has worked at the Office of Homecare Referrals (Project OHR) in Brooklyn for 14 years. She has remained committed to the homecare cause despite struggling to make ends meet as a recent immigrant from Belarus. As a single mother, Elena originally worked three jobs, including as a home attendant, in order to support herself and her two children. However, she now works full-time at Project OHR and loves being a caregiver. Elena is also a rank and file member of 1199 SEIU's Executive Council.
Verna Campbell - The longest tenured of the honorees, Verna has worked for more than 25 years in homecare and is currently at the Stella Orton Homecare Agency in Staten Island. An active member of 1199 SEIU, she was one of the first union delegates at the agency and helped unionize the workers to join 1199. Originally from Trinidad, Verna cares about working with seniors and has received several awards from local elected officials for her tireless work and activism in the community.