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We Are AFSCME

A look at the men and women who make America happen

Bruce Cannon

Master Puppeteer
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
Secretary, Local 299, DC 37

Bruce CannonHow did you become a puppeteer?

When I was seven years old, my parents took me to a puppet show. I have always been enchanted by the magic of it all. That led me to apply for a position as a civil service puppeteer. So, at 19, I started my professional career in puppetry and have entertained and educated kids ever since, for 37 years.

What is unique or unusual about the work you do?

There’s nothing like the experience of live theater. It allows children to enter a world of imagination and feel like they can actually participate and interact with the characters. We bring the Puppet Mobile to schools and neighborhood parks and present free performances and puppet-making workshops. The payoff is when children’s faces light up, eyes open and they’re smiling and screaming, dancing and clapping.

Why is it a vital service to the community?

Marionette theater fits in well with the department’s mission of uplifting our community through arts and culture, in order to avoid future social ills. That’s why we make an effort to reach out to the poorest parts of the inner city and instill some vibrancy in these depressed areas.

Sharon DerflingerSharon Derflinger

Health Inspector
Columbus Public Health Department
Local 2191 (Ohio Council 8)

How did you become a health inspector, or “sanitarian”?

After I earned a degree in restaurant management and dietetics, I became passionate about teaching and educating people, especially those involved in food preparation.

What makes your job unique?

It’s the things people don’t generally think about when they are preparing food. Washing your hands properly, can make a difference in preventing a foodborne outbreak. We make sure there are adequate temperatures and proper refrigeration, waste disposals, and spotless cooking areas. I also want to be assured they aren’t killing deer in their backyard and cooking it.

Why is it a vital public service?

At the Ohio State Fair, we review the applications of 200 food vendors, make sure they meet all the requirements and pass inspection. We don’t want anyone to get sick because of improper food handling. We inspect hundreds of restaurants, other public eating places and concessions stands to make sure they are up to code. We shut them down if they are in violation. We want our businesses to thrive but we also want our residents and visitors not to get sick while savoring our city.

Lon MoskowitzRabbi Lon Moskowitz

Prison Chaplain
California Men’s Colony
Member, Local 2620, Council 57

I have been a prison chaplain for 16 years. I team with chaplains from four different religious groups: Catholic, Muslim, Native American and Protestant. We are proud of the low rate of recidivism among prisoners we worked with.

It’s a different world behind those prison walls. I chose to be here, to take care of the spirits and souls of the incarcerated, to comfort them when they suffer a death or a loss in the family. And I pray with them that when they leave these prison walls, they can begin to lead productive lives.

I visit with about 30 inmates daily. The three simple rules I follow are: honesty, charity and optimism. I struggle to follow them each day because I see myself as a bridge from criminality to redemption.

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