JFKIAT and airport chaplains held their annual champagne toast to the New Year on January 26th. The event was held virtually due to the recent surge of the Omicron variant. Attending Chaplains were Father Chris Piasta, Rabbi Ari Korenblit, and Pastor Romeo Dabee.
Airport Chaplain Father Chris began the celebration with a welcome greeting, honoring how the community has worked together in confronting the past year’s many challenges.
Rabbi Ari Korenblit, the Chaplain at the International Synagogue at JFK Airport, spoke of his regret about not being able to gather in person as with the many past pre-pandemic celebrations held. He then spoke of the power of visualization, citing scripture from the Book of Isaiah about the destruction of the City of Jerusalem and its restoration. He paralleled the rebuilding of the city to the set of challenges we face today, envisioning the healing, hope and renewal that will once again bring us back together in the future.
President and CEO of JFKIAT Roel Huinink spoke next and thanked the Chaplains for all the great support they have given to the community, airport staff and passengers over the past year and beyond. He welcomed some 90 attendees to this year’s virtual New Year’s reception and discussed how the surge of the pandemic has impacted the airport community and staffing while meeting the challenges of the pandemic with great resilience. He toasted the community’s many achievements in 2021, hailing the many safety measures that were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic. He assured the continuance of these measures in order to keep staff and passengers as safe as possible today and in the future. Integrated technology, and the ongoing commitment of staff has been vital in meeting this continued goal of safety.
The achievements of staff were celebrated at the annual Employee Appreciation Day which was held and hosted at the airport’s Health and Wellness Center. Mr. Huinink then announced that JFKIAT was highlighted on Crain’s Best Place to Work and how that was representative of the company culture and mission of excellence during a very unpredictable year. He commented on JFKIAT’s commitment to giving back to the Queens community in its collaboration with local business partners. In 2021, through their combined efforts, over $230,000 was raised, providing several local organizations, businesses, and residents with critical resources.
Another major achievement in 2021 that was discussed was the ground-breaking for the next expansion of Terminal 4 and Governor Hochul’s recent announcement with Port Authority NYNJ and Delta of $1.5 billion funding for the increased capacity and renovation of T4. Additionally, as air traffic remains far from pre-pandemic levels, efforts continue to elevate T4 safety and experience in every way possible to restore public and traveler’s confidence. A video (https://youtu.be/0L9eGKwAEok)
was shared showing the many achievements that have taken place over the past year and Huinink expressed that he looks forward to 2022 and believes that it will be another year of resilience and recovery. He emphasized that JFKIAT will continue its commitment to its core values of safeguarding staff and passengers at T4 as well as its commitment to work at reducing carbon emissions, sustainability, the investment in green energy and responsible waste management.
After a brief champagne toast to the New Year, closing remarks by Pastor Dabee encouraged all those in attendance and fellow colleagues to keep a perspective of hope, positivity, and a reminder that we are all here for each other in the midst of the pandemic.
A verse was shared with a message that daily devotions are more powerful than yearly resolutions; that the community take time out to focus on being better individuals in our daily lives – at both work and home and to continue to commit to help build a better working environment that also provides a better space for those who are traveling, and in our own daily experience at work or at home.