Little Hearts Big World
Nomination from Bruce Padulsky
Melissa started her company eight years ago when one of her friend’s daughter was diagnosed with a heart defect. Since Melissa stated her company, she had traveled to Cancun Mexico to train the firemen there in CPR and First Aid. Melissa also has recently trained the Fanwood Police and Fire Departments in CPR and has a very successful babysitting and first Responder classes through the Scotch Plains Recreation Department. Melissa has been on the Fanwood Rescue Squad for 20 years and Scotch Plains Rescue Squad for 18 years and was Captain of the Fanwood Rescue Squad.
During the pandemic, for her babysitting class she conducted the class through Zoom but she had to place the CPR manikins and AED trainers in bins deliver them to each student’s residence. Then she would watch each students CPR skills Zoom. After the three day class concluded, she would pick up the bins and sanitize each manikin and AED trainer.
Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story
So, like everyone else once Covid began shutting things down I had to figure out how to keep things going and keep everyone safe. My company primarily teaches CPR, first aid, babysitting, and EMT courses which are all in person courses. We knew we couldn’t risk putting people together in person but all of these classes have hands on components and are regulated either by state or accrediting agency protocols. We became very creative in how to still work and stay within those guidelines.
Prior to the pandemic, I didn’t even know what Zoom was, let alone how to use it but I learned quick. We were able to take some of the Babysitting & CPR classes and teach them with a live instructor while the students were able to perform the skills from the safety of their homes. The hardest part was getting individual equipment to each student. We ended up putting CPR manikins, first aid supplies, AED trainers, and other equipment into large bins and dropped them off on students door steps for “contactless” drop off and pick up. When all the equipment was brought back after a class, we would disinfect everything and use UV lights.
Classes for EMT’s were not as easy to run. We switched over to writing online CEU classes so EMT’s could get the elective credits they needed when a lot of classes were cancelling. We delayed other EMT refresher classes initially but started doing in person classes masked and in small groups.
The other adaptation we began when the weather was nice was to hold classes outside. Whether it be at a local park, the local day care center or someone’s back yard, we found a way to teach these skills in some very unconventional ways.
We donated where we could. Fanwood police department, rescue squad, and fire department all still needed to keep their certifications active so I taught all their classes for my costs and kept the groups small. We baked and donated cookies to the Union County Covid Test Site and vaccination site. I also set it up so the Juice House in Garwood was able to supply snacks for the test site as well.
And through it all, I still rode for both Fanwood and Scotch Plains Rescue Squads. I have been an EMT for 20 years with Fanwood Rescue Squad and 17 years with Scotch Plains.
Nomination from Peter Martin
This restaurant has experienced losses and profound changes resulting from the pandemic. Nevertheless, this businesses continues to evolve in order to thrive again. While times have certainly changed Sheelen’s makes my family feel like home.
We may not be inside but taking advantage of their take out menu and outdoor dining almost makes us feel like it is 2019. So much times has passed. The owner’s invested back into their business when times were uncertain. They’ve done everything they could to stay open and I’m thankful that they are still around!
Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story
It was a tough and hard road for our business during the pandemic of 2020. Like every small business in America, we made huge personal and financial sacrifices to ensure the survival of our restaurant and fish market. Not only was the pressure of our own financial future at stake but the financial wellbeing of our employees and their families. All of our team members sacrificed our health and the health of our families being front line workers.
In order to adjust to the changing environment, we pivoted our business into more of a takeout model and with enormous help from our community we generated enough business to keep our staff working. We rotated our staff between the two businesses to keep everyone gainfully employed.
As all businesses have done, we complied with all safety regulations and Covid 19 mandates to ensure the safety of our workers and guests. We used window pickup at our locations to keep our guests safe so they didn’t have to enter the building to pick up their take -out orders.
We participated in some great programs that offered meals to Front Line workers at a reduced rate that was funded by donations from the community.
We supplied 200 meals a day for three months to homeless families and individuals at St. Joseph Social service Center in Elizabeth, NJ, through a program setup by Saint. Helen Catholic Church. We received anonymous donations to help our business survive from a generous member of our community and the money was used to fund this meal program.
We supplied 100 meals three times during a three month time frame to Our lady of Peace Catholic church to help families in need . We received donations for this program from a devoted servant of the congregation. We participated and our currently participating in a program for the Mountainside Seniors to provide low cost meals for senior residents of the community who are on fixed incomes.
My partner and I are very fortunate to make it through the worst of the pandemic. However, we certainly have a struggle in front of us with the current inflation and rising cost of goods. We are constantly adapting, reinventing ourselves with upcoming menu changes and creative marketing promotions. We expanded Sheelen’s Fish Market to a second location in North Plainfield and were able to employ 10 new staff members under our business group.