ALBANY, N.Y.—Transportation Security Administration employees at Albany International Airport have a long memory. And that’s a good thing.
They remember what it was like a year ago during the government shutdown when they worked for weeks without getting paid. But more important is that they remember the generosity of members of the community who came through the airport and dropped off food, gift cards and sometimes even cash to help the TSA officers get through that rough period. And they remember the meals that the airport community provided to support the TSA team until the furlough ended and their paychecks arrived.
So when a drive-through food bank was scheduled to take place in one of the airport parking lots to help people who have been laid off work or seen their work hours and paychecks reduced as a result of the pandemic, several TSA employees volunteered to assist.
“It’s all about paying it forward,” said Supervisory TSA Officer Frank Genovesi, who was one of several dozens of volunteers who helped distribute food when the Food Bank of Northeastern New York recently arranged for bags and boxes of fresh produce, dairy, meat and boxed and canned goods to be distributed to residents of the Capital Region from one of the airport parking lots.
The pandemic has resulted in “a difficult time for everybody and I wanted to help out because during the government shutdown, the community came together to help TSA and it was important for me to do the same for them. I felt honored to be able to take part” in the distribution of the food, Genovesi said.
“The Albany International Airport is fortunate to have such a dedicated workforce to participate in events such as these,” said TSA’s Upstate New York Federal Security Director Bart R. Johnson. “It’s great to see TSA employees helping others in giving back to the community.”
TSA Manager Shawntae Jones also volunteered to assist the food bank in its distribution. The people who drove through the food bank’s distribution line “were overwhelmed with what was being distributed,” Jones said. “There was really a nice amount of food—chicken, pork tenderloin, yogurt, fruit, sausage, vegetables.” Jones said that she volunteered “because during last year’s furlough, people in the community took care of us when we were not being paid. This was my way of saying thanks.”
The food distribution was set up like a factory’s assembly line with volunteers each staffing a station. TSA Manager Mary Bagnoli was stationed at the end of the assembly line as cars drove through. She distributed Egg Beaters and also asked drivers if they had kids so that she could also hand them coloring books, crayons, decals and little wooden wind-up airplanes for kids that were provided by the airport. “The community came through for TSA during the furlough and I figured this was the least I could do to give back,” she said.