Parks Salutes Its Employees Of The Month (Part I)
Ngin “Ninja” Torres is an Operations Employee of the Month for November.
Ninja joined Parks as a JTP in May 2007. In December of that year, she became a City Park Worker. Just six months later, she became an Assistant Gardener.
Ninja currently serves as a Gardener at the Queens Greenhouse. Her main job responsibilities include planting and maintaining numerous gardens and horticultural sites throughout Queens. One of these locations is Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where she takes care of many of the ornamental display plantings along with her fellow Queens Gardeners.
Ninja is a master Gardener with extensive experience in propagating, planting, pruning, pest control, and other horticultural skills. First and foremost, she is a fierce and tireless worker with a get-it-done attitude. She works hard and at a pace few can match. Ninja is a self-starter who takes the initiative whenever she sees something that needs to be done. As a team-leader, she inspires others to keep working hard. Her positive attitude is as contagious as her signature laugh that can be heard from the other room.
In the months following Hurricane Sandy, Ninja stepped up to the plate. First with storm clean-up of downed trees, and then with remediation of planting beds destroyed by Sandy. She was always the first to grab a chainsaw and head out the door in the morning. Her energy and positive attitude inspired others to work hard throughout the clean-up efforts.
Ninja sets an example through her work ethic and attitude. She is in the office early, pushes hard to get her work done, and then comes back for more. In her spare time, she volunteers as an animal rescuer for Friends of Stray Animal Rescue.
For her passion and hard work, Ninja was nominated by Director of Horticulture Adriana Jacykewycz and First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh.
Michael Shillitani is an Operations Employee of the Month for November.
Michael started with the agency as a full-time Park Service Worker in 1985. The following year his title was changed to City Park Worker. He was transferred to Queens District 15 in 1990 and has worked there ever since.
As a City Park Worker in District 15, Mike performs general maintenance duties in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, including minor painting, flag maintenance, and other special projects. He is also responsible for the removal of litter, leaves, snow, and ice, depending on the season.
Mike very quietly goes about his business every day and accepts every job graciously. He is incredibly reliable and trustworthy, completing each task proficiently and thoroughly.
Mike’s excellent work ethic was on display this past summer. He was instrumental in the preparation for not only the annual US Open, but also the 2013 MLB All Star Game at Citi Field in July.
As a District 15 veteran, younger employees look to Mike as an example. He sets the tone and creates an environment of productivity and resourcefulness.
For his years of dedicated service, Mike was nominated by PRM Matt Symons and First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh.
Joseph Drago is an Operations Employee of the Month for September.
Joe started at Parks in March 2001 as a CPW at the 5-Boro garage and was promoted to APSW in 2007. He joined the monuments crew in 2011.
As part of the monuments team, Joseph is responsible for daily maintenance of monuments and statuary in the five boroughs. He completes 15 to 30 maintenance jobs every month, which range from cyclical care assignments to vandalism response. He also assists with the storage of artifacts and fragments, facilitates the delivery of objects and materials, and files reports and photos of weekly maintenance.
Joe works in diverse settings throughout the year. He is regularly engaged in strenuous tasks involving multiple types of machinery, tools, equipment, and hard physical labor, often at dizzying heights requiring bucket lifts.
He is dedicated to the day-in/day-out care of a museum-quality collection with unique requirements due to our urban environment. The work he performs is very public and he often receives comments of gratitude and praise from park users while on the job. Joe recently provided annual upkeep for the city’s 9/11 memorials.
In August of this year, in an event that received much media attention, Joe responded to a heinous act of hate-crime graffiti in Coney Island. The Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese sculpture next to the MCU Stadium had been defaced and needed several days of care to restore it. Joe, alongside his colleague Victor Riddick and monuments conservators, removed the graffiti and brought the statue back to its glory.
Joe is a life-long Queens resident currently residing in South Ozone Park with his wife Fran. He’s a veteran of the Vietnam War, an active member of the Knights of Columbus, and the doting grandfather of Ryleigh. In his spare time Joe plays the drums with his band: The Satellites.
For a career of dedicated service, Joe was nominated by Director of Art and Antiquities Jonathan Kuhn, Deputy Commissioner Larry Scott Blackmon, and Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey hash! Turkey a la king! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!”
A Christmas Story