By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
For singlehandedly cleaning up debris left from a huge July 4th celebration near Bay Ridge Library, a Local 1482 Library Custodian received an Outstanding Citizenship award from City Council Member Justin Brannan.
An early morning July 5 Twitter post alerted Brannan to the mounds of trash littering the intersection of 73rd and Ridge Boulevard in Brooklyn, where the library is located.
“This was probably the worst I’ve seen,” said Eddie Rodriguez, the sole Assistant Custodian at the Bay Ridge branch.
Rodriguez arrived at work early on July 5. “I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of garbage in the street,” he said. “I knew people from the neighborhood would be coming to the library so I took the initiative and began cleaning up.”
With a broom and leaf blower, Rodriguez corralled the confetti, shredded wrappers and garbage strewn about. The smell of gunpowder was thick as he hosed down the sidewalks, streets and gutters.
“One neighbor said he felt bad about the mess and offered to help,” said Rodriguez. “I have a good rapport with the people who live around here. I live about ten blocks away. I treat the library like it’s my home.”
By 9:30 a.m., long before the Dept. of Sanitation street sweepers reached the block, Rodriguez had cleaned up completely. The Brooklyn Public Library custodial manager tweeted photos of Rodriguez’s work to Council Member Brannan. It was like night and day.
Rodriguez’s cleanup made a difference. Council Member Brannan took note and in July, he honored the DC 37 member with the Outstanding Citizen award.
“I was surprised and excited,” said Rodriguez.
Each morning he sets out tables and chairs in the library’s public seating area. “The pandemic forced us to close the library and people missed it,” Rodriguez said. “When we reopened, the library boosted the Wi-Fi to reach outside. The library is full of life and activity. People come, get their books and use the free internet. They eat lunch outside here.”
Rodriguez said, “What motivates me is I want to be the best I can be at what I do. I really like my job. Now with the COVID pandemic, my job of keeping the library clean is even more vital to the safety of our staff and the community.”
“Eddie Rodriguez exemplifies the dedication shown by union members who work especially hard to keep New Yorkers safe in this pandemic. I congratulate him on being recognized by Council Member Justin Brannan,” said Local 1482 President Ronaldo Barber.