When we sent out an open call to have workers submit a picture of themselves, we also asked them what essential work meant to them. Here, Andres Camilo Madariaga, restaurant worker & volunteer at the Greater New Haven Cat Project, wrote a poem on what essential work means to him:
What Essential Work Means to Me, by Andres Camilo Madariaga
Sometimes we forget, as we go on with our daily life, all the essential workers still selflessly serving all of us. The same essential workers that sacrifice themselves and their time-- every day-- so we all have a better life.
The farmers and restaurant workers, postal and grocery workers, pet stores and vets, animal shelters too.
The healthcare workers, public servers, restaurant workers, and coffee shops too. Everyone that goes to work, even when the pandemic was a lot worse, so we all could have a sense of normalcy.
I too-- I am an essential worker. First as a restaurant worker, then as an assistant groomer, then working with a cat shelter during the pandemic, helping so many cats that needed help.
I too feel scared and cry at the sense of powerlessness we all feel. Going to work every day just hoping for the best.
I also feel strong and proud regardless of what most people might think of what it means to be a bartender, or a server, working for tips, when sometimes we get none.
We are all heroes-- the healthcare workers sacrificing their lives every day, the farmers getting the food out so we all can get by another day, the people canvassing day by day, so more people can get vaccinated.
If anything, this pandemic reminded me to trust people again--and not to feel alone.
Something I was once giving up.
I too am an essential worker.