Wiping Away Our Fears

JFK employee Teresa Peralta is being honored as Airport Worker of the Year at the 2021 Building Service Worker Awards

| 29 Apr 2021 | 03:20

Usually when you hear about the front line workers of COVID-19 you think of doctors or nurses. But airport workers were also frontline soldiers during the pandemic. Teresa Peralta is the definition of a frontline worker, wiping out the virus’s daily harbingers with a swift spray of germ-killing disinfectant.

From 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Peralta can be found cleaning and disinfecting various areas of JFK airport. She says her favorite part of the job and what’s most important to her is the ability to create a sense of comfort through cleanliness, with the hope of easing the minds of passengers.

“I feel satisfied with what I do,” said Peralta. “I do it with love.”

She says she is thankful for her coworkers, who taught her to always do her job the right way no matter the circumstances. As a form of repayment, Teresa helps them communicate with management and any other individual they may be struggling to talk to.

Peralta said she’s lucky to have found this job, considering it was originally offered to her sister in 2013, who turned it down because she couldn’t pass the language test. At that point she had been out of the work since 1995, raising her children. But when her children were old enough and the opportunity presented itself, Peralta jumped on it, claiming that she wanted to be able to contribute toward living expenses through independent means.

Peralta got COVID-19 early on in the pandemic and was out of work for about a month and a half. However, when she was able to return to work she went back with a positive attitude, stating that she was grateful to be able to make the airport safer for travelers once again.

Peralta said that at the end of April of 2020, the airports were quite barren. But today, she said, things are getting busier again.

Peralta moved to NYC from the Dominican Republic when she was 22 years old after hearing of the opportunities. She hoped for a better future for her family, both financially and emotionally.

Her favorite thing to do outside of work is to cook for her family and keep her house organized and clean. At the end of the day, Teresa says that if she is able to come home to a satisfied family that she can spend time with then she doesn’t need much else. Her hope for after the pandemic is that she can gather with her extended family without a worry about COVID-19.