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In his shoes

Teen experiences late father’s postal job

Elaina Ficarra stands with two of her late father’s co-workers.
Elaina Ficarra stands with two of her late father’s co-workers, Route Inspector Michael Jannuzzi, left, and Route Inspection Team Leader Deren Sinatra, during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day last month.

A 14-year-old New Jersey girl recently got to follow in her late father’s postal footsteps for a day, thanks to two USPS colleagues who helped make it happen.

Jason Ficarra, a Northern New Jersey District route inspection team leader, died last year after a brief battle with cancer.

His daughter, Elaina, asked her mother if she could visit his workplace last month to participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

“She told me she never had a chance to see where her daddy worked,” said Kimberly Ficarra, Jason’s widow and Elaina’s mother. “I wasn’t sure if it was possible.”

The Garwood, NJ, resident contacted two of Jason’s route inspection team members, Michael Jannuzzi and Deren Sinatra, who helped Elaina receive approval to participate.

Jason and his colleagues were close.

“When my husband was in the hospital, there were so many visitors from the Post Office,” said Kimberly. “Some of them sat there with him for hours.”

Jannuzzi brought Elaina to the district office in Edison, where she observed employees performing Jason’s old duties, including conducting carrier training sessions, route sequencing and data input.

“It was great to see what Daddy did every day, and meet the people he worked so closely with,” said Elaina.

Said Januzzi: “She was able to step in her father’s shoes for one day and see why he was so valuable to our organization. He was a good man, and my friend.”

Sinatra told Elaina stories about her father.

“Jason and I used to sit together every day, and he’d talk about his kids all the time,” he said. “He always wanted to show Elaina what he did at work.”

Elaina received a warm welcome, including a visit from District Manager Michael Deignan and Operations Program Support Manager John Mateo.

“I told her, ‘You don’t work for USPS, but you’re now part of the postal family,’” said Mateo, who presented Elaina with a district pin. “She had tears in her eyes. I got choked up, too.”

Deignan, who has a daughter Elaina’s age, said the experience also moved him. “It … made me look to provide my daughter a learning moment on appreciating life,” he said.

In addition to Elaina, Jason and Kimberly’s children include Lillian, age 12, and Oliver, age 9.

Kimberly is thankful to the Postal Service for fulfilling her oldest daughter’s wish.

“Having her spend the whole day there to see what Jason did meant so much for us,” she said.

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