Sincerely, RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a legal trailblazer and a fierce advocate for advancing the rights of women and minorities, but in one area of life, at least, she was very much a traditionalist: letter writing.

The Supreme Court associate justice, who died Sept. 18 and will be buried this week, left behind countless admirers who received handwritten cards and letters from her throughout her career.

Last year, Miriam Benitez-Nixon received a thank-you note from Ginsburg after sending her a pearl collar that had been donated to the Dunedin, FL, thrift shop where Benitez-Nixon volunteers.

Ginsburg, whose distinctive collars were one of her trademarks, was recovering from surgery to remove cancerous nodules when she received the gift.

“The collar you sent is exquisite and will be among my favorites. I will wear it during the first sitting I return to the court,” Ginsburg wrote.

Benitez-Nixon and her fellow volunteers were surprised that the justice took the time to write.

“We’re all thrilled she received it [and] that she loved it,” Benitez-Nixon told the Washington Examiner newspaper.

Similar stories abound: A Columbia, MD, girl who dressed as Ginsburg for her school’s Superhero Day received a handwritten note from the justice. A mom who wrote to Ginsburg asking if her daughter could meet the justice during a class trip to Washington received a note saying she’d be delighted to grant the request. Professional soccer player Becky Sauerbrunn, who sent Ginsburg a jersey bearing the justice’s name, received a thank-you note and a promise that Ginsburg would wear it during an upcoming workout.

Paul Schiff Berman, a George Washington University law professor who clerked for Ginsburg, told the Examiner she was “meticulous” about responding to correspondence and would “think about and labor over every word she writes.”

Michael Egel, general and artistic director of the Des Moines Metro Opera in Iowa, exchanged nine letters with Ginsburg, a well-known opera aficionado, beginning in 2015.

Her final letter to him, dated Aug. 27, closed with well-wishes for the opera and all its supporters.

“It always felt special,” Egel told KCCI, the local CBS station, last week. “It feels even more special and touching now.”

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Closing soon

The Postal Service will soon close its online Safety Toolkit to make room for a better version next year, although many of the system’s key features will remain available in the interim.

The Safety Toolkit will be removed Sept. 30 and replaced with the new website, called the Safety and Health Management Tool, in early 2021.

Employees should continue to complete and document all required safety activities using the following resources:

• The HERO learning portal will have mandatory stand-up talks on safety matters.

• The Microsoft Teams application will have inspection checklists for twice-yearly and annual documentation; reporting information for serious accidents, OSHA activity and hazard abatement; and PS 1767 Form, Report of Hazard, Unsafe Condition or Practice. To use the Microsoft Teams app, request access through eAccess.

• The Safety Toolkit’s safety resources and references will be available on the Safety Blue page.

Employees who use the Safety Toolkit should download any documents currently used in the online system — such as OSHA written programs and asbestos surveillance and inspections documentation — before Sept. 30.

Employees who have questions should contact a manager or supervisor.

Are you current?

The USPS Health and Wellness team wants employees to know about the importance of getting vaccinated, even in adulthood.

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccine-preventable diseases and infections, such as measles and diphtheria, can cause long-term illness, hospitalization or even death.

Vaccines, which are typically administered orally or as an injection, produce immunity against certain disease-causing organisms in your body. Employees should consult a doctor or health care provider to discuss which vaccines are appropriate for them.

Vaccines are available for the following viruses and infections, and more:

  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster): A viral disease that can appear as a painful skin rash with blisters
  • Hepatitis A: A viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe symptoms
  • Hepatitis B: Another virus that affects the liver
  • Pertussis: A highly contagious respiratory disease, also known as whooping cough
  • Pneumococcal: A bacterial infection that affects ears and sinuses, as well as the bloodstream, and can cause pneumonia
  • Tetanus: A serious bacterial infection that causes painful muscle contractions, particularly in the jaw and neck

The CDC website has a recommended vaccine schedule for adults 19 and older.

The Wellness LiteBlue page has more information to help employees maintain their physical, emotional and financial health.

Right on the money

September is National Preparedness Month — and the Postal Service wants employees to prepare in advance for unexpected financial emergencies.

In the event of an emergency, you’ll likely need a financial first-aid kit that contains your insurance, banking and other information.

Here’s what the kit should include:

  • Images of important documents and personal belongings to help quickly file insurance claims
  • Copies of critical personal documents including a medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, a deed or lease to your home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies
  • A small amount of cash in case ATMs aren’t available

Also, consider establishing a savings account specifically for emergencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s site has additional instructions for creating an emergency financial first-aid kit.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.