In his shoes

Elaina Ficarra stands with two of her late father’s co-workers.

A 14-year-old New Jersey girl recently got to follow in her late father’s postal footsteps for a day, thanks to two USPS colleagues who helped make it happen.

Jason Ficarra, a Northern New Jersey District route inspection team leader, died last year after a brief battle with cancer.

His daughter, Elaina, asked her mother if she could visit his workplace last month to participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

“She told me she never had a chance to see where her daddy worked,” said Kimberly Ficarra, Jason’s widow and Elaina’s mother. “I wasn’t sure if it was possible.”

The Garwood, NJ, resident contacted two of Jason’s route inspection team members, Michael Jannuzzi and Deren Sinatra, who helped Elaina receive approval to participate.

Jason and his colleagues were close.

“When my husband was in the hospital, there were so many visitors from the Post Office,” said Kimberly. “Some of them sat there with him for hours.”

Jannuzzi brought Elaina to the district office in Edison, where she observed employees performing Jason’s old duties, including conducting carrier training sessions, route sequencing and data input.

“It was great to see what Daddy did every day, and meet the people he worked so closely with,” said Elaina.

Said Januzzi: “She was able to step in her father’s shoes for one day and see why he was so valuable to our organization. He was a good man, and my friend.”

Sinatra told Elaina stories about her father.

“Jason and I used to sit together every day, and he’d talk about his kids all the time,” he said. “He always wanted to show Elaina what he did at work.”

Elaina received a warm welcome, including a visit from District Manager Michael Deignan and Operations Program Support Manager John Mateo.

“I told her, ‘You don’t work for USPS, but you’re now part of the postal family,’” said Mateo, who presented Elaina with a district pin. “She had tears in her eyes. I got choked up, too.”

Deignan, who has a daughter Elaina’s age, said the experience also moved him. “It … made me look to provide my daughter a learning moment on appreciating life,” he said.

In addition to Elaina, Jason and Kimberly’s children include Lillian, age 12, and Oliver, age 9.

Kimberly is thankful to the Postal Service for fulfilling her oldest daughter’s wish.

“Having her spend the whole day there to see what Jason did meant so much for us,” she said.

Be heard

Raleigh, NC, Mail Handler Toya Brown

Toya Brown wants her voice to be heard.

The Raleigh, NC, mail handler completes the Postal Pulse employee survey each year because she believes in sharing her opinions with USPS leadership.

“You can sit there and gripe to your co-workers, but who is that helping? We have to start looking at the survey for what it is. It is a way to have your voice be heard,” she says.

The survey, which takes about 5 minutes to complete, is administered by Gallup. The questions are designed to produce information that USPS can use to make workplace improvements, and all individual survey responses remain confidential.

Brown offers the following tips to co-workers who want to participate in the latest survey, which is underway from May 14-June 14:

• Use the comments box. “The space is there for a reason. Write your comments down. Management wants your thoughts,” she says.

• Remember that change takes time. “I’ve seen some of my survey comments make a difference, but don’t expect things to happen overnight,” she says.

• Communicate. “Beyond the survey, talk to your managers, talk to your supervisors. You have to keep pressing the matter. Keep talking.”

Brown continues: “We are not only employees. We are also a family. We should be able to treat each other with respect and honesty. We can’t do that unless we communicate.”

“Best Practices,” a series on employees who demonstrate on-the-job excellence, appears regularly in Link.

Wild side

The Wild and Scenic Rivers stamp pane

The Wild and Scenic Rivers stamps will begin flowing into the nation’s mailboxes this week.

The 12-stamp pane highlights images from the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, including:

  • Merced River, the main waterway flowing through Yosemite Valley, CA
  • An Idaho segment of the Owyhee River, where desert canyons are carved into volcanic rock
  • Alaska’s Koyukuk River, which originates in the Brooks Range within the Arctic Circle
  • Niobrara River, a tree-lined haven for wildlife amid an otherwise treeless prairie in Nebraska
  • Snake River in Wyoming, where the Grand Tetons provide a spectacular backdrop
  • Flathead River, a Montana stream that is part of a wildlife habitat that includes grizzly bears
  • Missouri River, where the White Cliffs section in Montana remains virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark’s 1805 explorations
  • Skagit River in Washington state, which is among the nation’s most fertile salmon habitats
  • Deschutes River, an Oregon stream punctuated by beautiful cascades over volcanic rock formations
  • Tlikakila River in Alaska, where moose, caribou, Dall sheep, bears, wolves and sockeye salmon thrive
  • Ontonagon River of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which runs northward into Lake Superior and is rich with native trout
  • Pennsylvania’s Clarion River, which flows through lands that are home to some of the tallest old-growth forest in the Northeast

Overall, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, established by a 1968 law, is comprised of more than 200 free-flowing rivers that are noted for remarkable attributes, including fish and wildlife, geology, recreation and cultural or historical significance.

Derry Noyes, a USPS art director, used existing photographs to design the pane, which will be available at Post Offices and usps.com.

Mail them back

Scanner scanning a label.

USPS is reminding employees not to throw away batteries and light bulbs, but to follow proper recycling procedures instead.

The Postal Service uses many battery types and sizes, including lithium, lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium and lead-acid.

Lithium and lithium-ion batteries from handheld scanners and portable electronic devices are the most common regulated battery used at Postal Service sites.

Most batteries should be managed as universal waste and recycled. The Sustainability Blue page’s batteries section has more information.

Light bulbs containing mercury and other hazardous materials also should be managed as universal waste and recycled. Such bulbs include 4-foot and 8-foot fluorescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs.

USPS facilities should recycle both used batteries and bulbs through Cleanlites Recycling Inc., the Postal Service’s national universal waste management service contractor.

Cleanlites now offers a mail-back option, in addition to direct pick-up services.

The Sustainability Blue page has more information about environmental compliance.