It’s Valentine’s Day and we’re getting a little sappy here at NPPC because we just love public employees. We often speak highly about the people who make our communities run. From the teachers who have touched our lives individually to the public safety officers we know we can rely on, our love for the folks who devote their careers to public service has no end. To celebrate this day of love, we want to highlight just a few of the public employees close to our hearts. 

When I think about who my favorite public employee is, it’s a toss-up: Is it my high school choir director, who was boisterous and supportive and no doubt impacted my life positively when I needed it during such a formative time in my life? It could be, but ultimately, I’ve got to go with my heart on this one. My favorite public employee is my incredible partner, Michael, a 15-year employee of our local school district and an involved AFSCME member. Michael started his career in public service as a paraprofessional, but now he is the head custodian at one of our district’s magnet elementary schools. He’s also got a big heart, a contagious laugh, a love of old Volvos, is a prolific musician and songwriter, and knows every Stephen King story inside and out. His affinity for serving his fellow humans is apparent in his dedication to keeping his school a clean, functional, safe space for the students and staff. He’s also reliably there for his family, friends, and community. Whether it’s raising awareness for social issues, or donating his time and talents as a performer to benefit a community in need, Michael is the kind of public employee that deserves recognition, and the reward of retirement security after a career serving the needs of countless families in our city.  –Maria

My family is filled with public employees, from teachers to social workers to public health officials. It’s really tough to pick one, but if I had to, I’d have to pick my mom. My mom worked for the state of Pennsylvania as a social worker, rising through the ranks to finally retire from working for the Lancaster County Assistance Office. She dedicated her career to helping those who need the most, often working in disadvantaged communities across the state. As I work here at NPPC, I often think about how we as a team are protecting the pensions of people just like her: the public employees who get up every day with an eye on serving their communities. I’m proud to call her my mom, and I’m proud of the work that we do here at NPPC. – Andrew 

While countless public employees have positively impacted my life and found a forever place in my heart, my absolute favorite public employee is my maternal grandmother, Arrie Lee–who I happen to be named after and share with pride! Arrie Lee was a dedicated nurse at Children’s National Hospital and devoted nearly 40 years to caring for sick children. Arrie wore several hats outside the hospital. She served as a Shop Steward for the District of Columbia Nurses Association, where she sat on the Executive Board. Arrie was also a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and friend that was always there when needed–no questions asked. Having a single mother, she stepped up and played a vital role in my upbringing. When she wasn’t busy being a superhero, she enjoyed watching British soap operas, gardening, hosting gatherings at our home, and cooking–and everyone looked forward to eating her food. Being a nurse comes with a lot of stress, pressure, and brutally long shifts, but they were no match for the unwavering passion my grandmother had for caring for children and their families, and she did it contently every day with a smile until her passing. Someday, we all hope to leave our mark on the world, and I wholeheartedly believe that my grandmother did that. She left a mark on her colleagues, who have now become family and still talk of their wonderful memories of her. She left her mark on the many patients she cared for and their families, who will remember her warm and nurturing spirit during their time of need. Her life left a mark on me and inspired me always to show love and kindness to others. –Ariel

On this Valentine’s Day, I want to recognize my mom as my favorite public employee. She taught English in the Duluth Public Schools for 25 years. She began her career in rural districts in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Then in the early 1980s, she taught what was then called ESL to English language learners, most of whom were refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Later, after attaining her master’s in special education, she was placed at a tough alternative middle school, where she was a mentor, friend, and teacher to students from especially troubled backgrounds. Later she developed a specialized English for theTechnologies curriculum and finished her career at the technical high school. She loved to connect with students from less privileged backgrounds and inspire them to read and use their language skills to connect with others. Often when I have been out in the community with my mom, at a restaurant or the mall, one of her former students will approach us and excitedly introduce my mom to their kids, and share how their lives have evolved in the years since they were in her class. It is evident that my mom changed many students’ lives for the better. After all, isn’t that what being a public employee is all about? – Kendal 

Happy Valentine’s Day from the NPPC team! Get out there and spread the love to your favorite public employee today!