banner ad

Bristow Woman Delivers Food to Air Traffic Control Workers

| January 29, 2019 | 0 Comments | Community

Inside Potomac Consolidated Air Traffic Control Center in Warrenton, Virginia. (Photo by FAA)

When Bristow woman Catherine O’Connor learned how the partial government shutdown was affecting government employees, she wanted to do something to help.

O’Connor organized a group of individuals in Northern Virginia and last week they delivered nonperishable food items to Air Traffic Control headquarters around the area.

“My own father was an air traffic controller for most of his life. That’s the main reason I began to entice and solicit support,” she said, noting he worked 35 years at Dulles.

Growing up around the ACT, she understands how difficult and important the job of an air traffic controller is.

“It’s very close to my heart. I know first hand how stressful that job is: how urgent and how pressing, and how hard those people work to make ensure our air-safety. It is their number one concern.” It is hard on the individual and their families. “They work 24-7. They go nonstop. D.C. is one of the biggest air corridors in the world.”

During the partial government shutdown, some ATC federal employees worked longer hours due to diminished staffing. The same workers went for weeks without a paycheck, not knowing when they would be paid again; all of which created added stress.

O’Connor decided to help ATC workers because she felt it was what her father would have done.

One way she found to help was to collect food that could be eaten at work during breaks. ATC vending machines were not operable during the shutdown. Additionally, workers may have been reluctant to spent on food for themselves when they were not getting paid, especially if they wanted to prioritize their families.

She did not believe they should be working around the clock without easy access to food. “Keep their energy level is up. That is our goal; that is what we’re doing.”

She asked on social media for donations of food she would then deliver to air traffic controllers on the job such as snacks, drinks and microwavable meals “as if you were sitting at your desk eating your lunch.”

She sent out a call on social media and received people willing to help from all over Prince William, Fairfax and Fauquier counties. She went around picking up food from various locations. “The whole first floor of my house filled with foods: prepackaged dinners, chips, crackers, donuts, fruit and coffee.”

She also inquired as to what the employees wanted. She wanted to give them more than packages of Ramen noodles.

Wednesday, she delivered food to the Manassas Airport, she  made plans to deliver food to Fauquier ATC workers on Saturday. After that, she expected to bring food to Leesburg ATC workers as well.

Then on Friday, it was announced that the shut down would end. However, O’Connor knew there would be some lag time before people received paychecks again.

“It will take a while to get back to normal. It is not going to happen over night,” she said. “People are living on their savings if they have any. We don’t want to cut the strings to them just yet.”

Saturday, O’Connor and other local volunteers filled her vehicle with bags of groceries,  and dropped them off at the Fauquier air traffic control located south of Gainesville. For protection of the facility, she was greeted outside the gates and photography was discouraged. However, she was told the workers were excited and very grateful. As for O’Connor, she said she was happy that it worked out and the food went to its intended location.

While she received an abundance of support, she was surprised that not everyone believed in what she was doing. “This whole process almost got sidelined due to some negativity that was being expressed. I was flabbergasted,” she said, saying she never anticipated negativity about reaching out to help her neighbors.

She believes in supporting others and the community coming together. “Like anyone else who works, if you fall on hard times, we’re all in this together,” she said, noting that the shutdown was beginning to radiate throughout the entire community. “It impacts a lot of other people too. We’re doing this out of the kindness of our hearts.”

She worries that the government could shutdown again and workers would find themselves in the same situation once more. If so, she will be there collecting food items again, and should that time come, she is willing to share her contact information.

O’Connor said she could not have done it on her own. She thanks everyone who helped with donations and delivery and also the air traffic controller association representatives who assisted her in the endeavor.

© 2019, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Community

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

banner ad