It was the morning of the fierce nor’easter snow storm, but Eleanor Macklin, a dietary aide at
NCC’s Extended Care Center in Newark, knew she had to be in place by 6 o’clock to prepare breakfast for the nursing home residents.
“I got up early, around 4 a.m., and looked outside. My car was snowed in so I knew I would have to call for transportation,” she said.
Ali Jenkins, the transportation supervisor at Extended Care, had already dug his own car out of the snow
. He now headed to the nursing home to dig out the Adult Medical Day Care van he would use to pick up Macklin and others who were stranded at home, like nursing home administrator Betty Lawson and activities director Elizabeth Brookins. Snow closed the Adult Medical Day Care program for two straight days.
Veronica Onwunaka, the nursing director, literally hammered her tires out of the ice and snow in her driveway so wasn’t among the van riders, making it to work on her own. Both she and Jenkins agree it was quite a challenge.
“You woudn’t have wanted to be out. It was terrible,” Jenkins said, noting at one point he found himself having to maneuver the van in the snow after he found himself behind a bus that became stuck in the middle of a Newark street.
Lorelei Ramos, nursing supervisor, ended up pulling a double shift to ensure coverage at Extended Care, as did certified nursing assistants like Ibiso Monibo and Olubunmi Shadeko. Gwendoly Williams, the front desk security officer, also worked beyond her shift and Samuel Gaddy, the assistant culinary instructor, somehow made it in to prepare lunch so the Culinary Cafe would be open. Annie Pate, the laundry aide at Extended Care, reported to work three hours early to make sure the residents’ clothes were cleaned.
Meanwhile, workers from NCC’s Environmental Services Department trudged through the snow and ice too, as they had the critical job of clearing NCC property of snow and ice in the interest of keeping both employees and residents of the senior buildings and family housing units safe.
“We know how to survive, but had to do a lot of improvising,” said Zuberi Bandele, one of the workers who was out clearing the snow from walkways and parking lots. “It was rough,” he added.
Environmental Services Director Wayne Gravesande said the nor’easter that dumped more than a foot of snow in some parts of New Jersey pre-Valentine’s Day made Hurricane Sandy look like a wimper, calling this the “roughest” winter many of his men had seen in about 20 years. Yes, dealing with storm, after storm, after storm.
“…Looking at what we’ve been up against, we have moved mountains,” added Bryant Hall, the department’s purchasing supervisor who was also out on snow duty, mostly supervising snow removal at the various NCC sites in Newark, Orange and Jersey City.
Mountains of snow, for sure. In appreciation for all of their efforts, the workers were treated to a Valentine’s Day luncheon at Extended Care prepared by lead culinary instructor, Jonathan Butler and his staff. The meal consisted of fried chicken, red-skinned potato salad, carrots and assorted cold cuts, all washed down with a refreshing iced tea.
“This is a hot meal you so rightfully deserve,” Gravesande told his workers, who before long were headed back out the door for more snow duty.