The Bridgehampton School's Future Farmers of America Club and its adviser, Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, have designed a memorial dedicated to transportation workers who died during the pandemic, at Suffolk County government headquarters in Hauppauge.
The club created a circular garden concept and donated five eastern North American dogwood trees, the variety known as Princess Cherokee — a species that itself once suffered from a disease and bounced back with the help of scientific advancements in botany.
The students also selected low-growing blueberry bushes and other native Long Island plants for the garden, which features a large stone in the middle with a plaque honoring 21 workers who died of Covid-19. Montauk-based Mickey's Carting volunteered to transport the trees to the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge, where the memorial has been installed.
"This group of girls were determined to do something . . . memorable and important for this year," Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said this week. "It was special, because during Covid you really weren't allowed to have funerals and ceremonies, so it was quite moving. It was so nice to be part of it. It made you realize we are turning into a new period."
In a statement, Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming noted that transit employees "kept the economy going during the worst of the pandemic by transporting essential workers — grocery store, hospital, and other workers — to critical businesses. We owe them a debt of gratitude that we cannot fully express. Because of Covid restrictions, many families who lost loved ones were unable to formally mourn these committed public servants, so we wanted to take the time to honor these workers and assure their families that they will never be forgotten."