Fuks (6), classmates bring joy to Queens Hospital Center

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Vidhatrie Keetha, Staff Writer

“In the midst of hell, this was a very nice glimpse of hope and humanity,” said Dr. Aleksandr Fuks, the Director of the OB/GYN Department at Queens Hospital Center. 

Towards the end of April, Aleksandr’s daughter, Abey Fuks (6), and her fifth-grade classmates wrote about 15 to 20 letters to different units in the department her father oversees. Now, the letters are displayed in the hospital’s Labor and Delivery department on a colorful poster board Abey created. 

“It’s like a little shrine that they started,” Aleksandr said. “Everyone was so touched and very positively affected by it.” 

The students discussed how they could give back to their community throughout the spring, said Emily Perelman, who was Abey’s fifth grade teacher. “As soon as we got online, and started talking about what was happening around us, there were definitely some sparks of ideas among the fifth graders about how we can help.”

After mentioning that her father was a healthcare worker, Abey told Perelman over a Zoom call that she wanted to involve other students in the process of writing letters to the hospital where he worked, Perelman said.

Even though Abey had initially pitched the idea to her teacher, Abey and her classmates spearheaded the project, Perelman said. “I was just like a cheerleader and told them how proud I was of them,” she said. “I was so impressed at the initiative they took to send love and positivity and appreciation to those caring for members of our community.”  

Abey was inspired to write the letters by the stories her father told her about what he and his colleagues went through during the pandemic, she said.

“I think pairing [that] up with what she had to go through, sitting at home during quarantine, she felt compelled to support us,” Aleksandr said.

Although Abey’s classmates each wrote individual letters thanking the healthcare workers outside of class, some of her classmates wrote their letters together online, she said.  

Mischa Abend (6) was honored to have been included in the project, she said. “I thanked the healthcare workers for risking their and their families’ lives to help others,” she said. “I [thought] that if they saw those letters, it would empower them to keep on going and doing what they’re doing.”

Jane Rosenblum (6) said writing the letters was a touching experience. “It made me feel grateful,” she said. “And that [the healthcare workers] are actually going to read what I wrote, and that’s really special, because I know that what they’re doing is really hard.”

The impact of Abey and her classmates’ letters was visible in the recipients’ reactions. “The nurses were so happy, some of them cried,” Aleksandr said. “Some of them have children and grandchildren around the same age, and they were so happy that some of them said you know what, I’ll tell my children to do the same thing.”

Gloria Sacco, who works as a Physician Assistant in the OB/GYN department, said the letters provided much needed distraction from the work at hand. She remembers walking into Labor and Delivery and seeing Abey’s note, which had caught her attention because of how similar the handwriting was to that of her son, who is the same age as Abey. 

The letters helped boost morale in the hospital, which was hit hard by the pandemic in March and April, Sacco said. “We work in a city hospital in an underserved area and I feel like we work really hard, and sometimes that pat on the back doesn’t come so often,” she said. “To see the letters pouring in definitely cheered us up and encouraged us to keep going.”

To convey their gratitude, the staff sent a card to Abey and her classmates, Aleksandr said. The students were additionally recognized for their efforts in a letter addressed to them from the hospital itself.

The letter demonstrated the impact the students’ actions had on others, Perelman said. “We spend a lot of time in the Lower Division talking about emotional intelligence and being able to understand how other people are feeling,” she said. “I was so happy that they were recognized, because it was really important work.”

Abey said she and her classmates were proud to have made an impact. The recognition showed her that the healthcare workers had been affected positively by the letters she had written, she said.

The students’ actions reflect their character, Aleksandr said. “The fact that Abey and her friends and classmates found in their heart the desire to make others’ lives a bit easier and better by writing these letters tells us something about these kids,” he said.