NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — While most city residents decided to stay at home or had no way to get out in the hours after the great blizzard of 2013, the dietary staff at Msgr. Bojnowski Nursing Home had other ideas.
Realizing that the 55 residents at the Pulaski Street facility would go hungry if they were not there to prepare meals for them, four members of the staff walked through the thick snow to get to work.
Some walked more than an hour in the fresh snow — their footprints being the first. Some might say it was a Herculean task, even a dangerous one. But for the four nursing home workers, it was something they felt they had to do.
It took Rosie Centeno, 28, of McKinley Drive, an hour and 15 minutes to walk what is usually a five-minute drive. She left for work at 4:15 a.m. in the early hours of Feb. 9. She waded through snow that was up to 4 feet deep along mostly unplowed streets.
"I felt an obligation. People needed to be here," said Centeno, who walked her way through primarily side streets in the bitter cold. "They needed to eat. The handful of residents who were aware of their surroundings appreciated what we did."
Heather O'Bright followed in her mother's footsteps of stories from great blizzards. O'Bright, 19, and a resident of Heather Lane, took 90 minutes to get to work in what is usually an eight-minute drive.
"My mom walked to a job interview in the 1978 blizzard," O'Bright said. "She walked about three miles. Of course, she got the job. She was the only one who showed up."
O'Bright, who hS had three knee surgeries and was hurting a lot from her walk during the blizzard, added. "Now I will have something to tell my grandchildren."
For Julio Ortiz, 20, of Slater Road, his walk was an hour and 20 minutes.
He wanted to go to work; his parents were against it.
"I fought with my parents over it," Ortiz said with a smile. "They didn't want me to go, but I did. They ended up telling me to be careful."
Ortiz, who has worked at the facility since he was 16 years old, said the staff has become close to the residents, adding, "It was the right thing to do. We are essential workers."
While his three colleagues took more than an hour to get to work, it took 39-year-old Christopher Williams just 40 minutes from his Putnam Street home, normally a five-minute drive.
"At first, I wanted to stay home. I really wanted to stay home," Williams said. "But, someone had to cook for them and I knew the others were walking too."
All four workers slept at the nursing home Saturday night. Williams had the best spot. While his colleagues slept in the physical therapy department, Williams managed to grab some shut-eye in his boss's office, "where the heat was," Williams said.