Home away from home

Amy Tackett was in a tough spot a decade ago when her son, Elijah, was born 13 weeks early.

Tackett, a USPS retail associate in Printer, KY, lived more than two hours away from the hospital, so traveling back and forth to visit him posed a significant hardship.

When a nurse told her about Ronald McDonald House — a charity that helps families of hospitalized children — Tackett was cautiously optimistic.

“I filled out an application [and] within a couple of hours, they called me and told me they had a room for my husband and me,” said Tackett, who ended up spending three months at Ronald McDonald House.

“I am forever grateful to the Ronald McDonald House. I can never thank them enough for being so generous and kind to me and my family,” she said.

Tackett is one of many Postal Service employees who have been helped by Ronald McDonald House, one of more than 7,000 organizations seeking contributions during the Combined Federal Campaign, the federal government’s annual workplace charity drive.

‘I could almost forget about the stress of the day’

In 2006, Courtney Carpio, an acting customer services supervisor in Columbia, MO, had a daughter, Sahara, who was born prematurely.

Carpio worried about being able to make the nearly two-hour drive each way to visit her. She also had to care for her other children.

The hospital encouraged her to reach out to the local Ronald McDonald House, which offered a room for her and her children as long as she needed.

“I wouldn’t have been able to rent a motel room for 101 days,” said Carpio. “They gave us clothes, books and took part of the emotional part of it away. Every night when I went to Ronald McDonald House, I could almost forget about the stress of the day.”

Sahara, now 13, has autism, but it doesn’t interfere with her enjoyment of going to school, Carpio said.

‘I never forgot their generosity’

Another USPS employee, Marshall Irwin, a Jellico, TN, retail associate, contacted Ronald McDonald House when his 4-year-old son, Ryan, needed open heart surgery in 1997.

“Unfortunately, they were full, but they didn’t turn us away, and got us a room at a hotel at no cost,” Irwin said. “I never forgot their generosity and have donated to them almost every year since.”

Ryan stopped needing heart treatments a few years ago and currently works for an electric company.

CFC member charities like Ronald McDonald House depend on donations to continue providing their services.

The latest CFC cycle is underway through Jan. 12, 2020. Employees can donate using the online giving portal or a paper pledge form.

Said Irwin: “Pick a charity that is close to your heart and give as much as you can. It will definitely help people.”

Flu season is here

Are you ready for flu season?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each year.

All Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) plans cover flu shots at no cost to Postal Service employees.

The CDC also encourages people to learn more about the flu, which is spread through social contact.

Symptoms include high fever, chills, fatigue and nausea. Complications can lead to serious ailments.

To prevent contracting or spreading the flu, take the following steps:

• Avoid close contact with people who are ill.

• If possible, stay home when you’re ill.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Fortify your immune system by getting plenty of sleep, drinking fluids and eating nutritious food.

The CDC site’s Influenza section has additional guidelines for flu season. The USPS Health Plan Tools LiteBlue page has information about other services available to employees at no out-of-pocket costs.

Summer of ’69

The recent Woodstock stamp dedication ceremony is highlighted in a new Postal Service video.

The stamp honors the 50th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair held in August 1969 in Bethel, NY. The festival was promoted as “3 Days of Peace and Music.”

Featuring such performers as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead, Woodstock closed a tumultuous decade scarred by the assassinations of prominent leaders, urban unrest and anti-war protests.

The video shows guitarist “Captain” Kirk Douglas of the Roots recreating the electrifying version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that Hendrix performed at the festival.

Also featured are remarks from the ceremony’s speakers, including Michael Lang, a co-creator and producer of the 1969 festival.

“Woodstock has always been about activism, celebrating diversity and positive social change,” he says.