President’s Message – May 2020

While navigating the drive home in heavy traffic on Thursday March 12th, I was listening to the radio. As I did, I heard a statement from Doctor Anthony Fauci from the NIAID and now the country’s top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Fauci’s statement of, “This is NOT business as usual,” really grabbed my attention and made me think twice about what is really going on. I have to admit that I was skeptical at first, and the first time I heard “Social Distancing” I thought of the rock band Social D. In my mind, I related the coronavirus to influenza and questioned why isn’t’ the media mentioning anything about the flu. My thoughts were that this will just blow over, obviously my skepticism was wrong.

Fauci’s statement caused me to place a call to LAFRA’s longtime employee and Operations Manager Bob Dillon. I asked Bob what it would take to give all of our employees the ability to work remotely. In typical Bob fashion, he said, “We just need to do this and that, we can make it happen.” More of a concern for Bob was the safety and wellbeing of the employees (Angelica and Monica) at our reception desk. On Friday, March 13th, a meeting was held with LAFRA’s Executive Director Todd Layfer and LAFRA’s Human Resources Administrator Victoria Conwell to discuss our daily operations moving forward. It was at that point that a decision was made to close the front doors to in-person business for the health and wellbeing of all LAFRA employees. Bob’s foresight of keeping LAFRA employees safe and protected from having exposure early on is significant. Additionally, Bob went above and beyond and “Made it Happen” over the weekend for all to work remotely the following Monday. THANK YOU, BOB!

Under the City and County of Los Angeles “Safer at Home” policy, LAFRA is considered an “essential” business and falls under healthcare operations. As of the end of April, LAFRA has 15,103 members covered in one of our two medical plans. Additionally, LAFRA has a significant number of Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighters that need assistance. Therefore, LAFRA employees are still coming into the office in a limited capacity to handle daily business.

There are 26 employees that work at the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association under the direction of Todd Layfer. Without our employees, LAFRA would not be able to operate. Trevor, Angelica, and Monica, thank you for coming in to pick up and process the mail and distributing it to the correct departments. Irma, thank you for transcribing our Board and Committee minutes and agendas and for processing the updated beneficiary forms that are being sent in. Liberty, Francisco, Loan, Alex, and Tyler in the accounting department, thank you for continuing to keep the books in order and making sure our vendors are getting paid; it is great to see you all on Thursday’s. Ana and Maria in Member Services, thank you for continuing to field the phone calls and take care of the membership in these trying times. Liz, thank you for staying up on and reaching out to members who are coming up on retirement. Kevin, we appreciate you continuing to take care of and monitor the building needs and keeping it safe. Juliette, we appreciate the continued effort in setting up or unfortunately postponing LAFRA’s events; WE WILL BE BACK TO NORMAL SOON. John, Eric, and Alicia, thanks to you the Grapevine magazine and its content continue to keep us all connected and informed. Marlene, April, Juan Carlos, and Deborah, thank you for reaching out to the membership and keeping us all updated on the constantly evolving changes concerning this pandemic. Valerie and Diane, thank you for reaching out to our Widows and Orphans and their families and tending to their needs. Jim and Steve, thank you for continuing to handle the notifications, member outreach, and delivering the Flags to be flown in honor of members. Victoria, thank you for keeping us informed and up-to-date in our business practices and processing payroll. You are all doing a great job of making sure the day-to-day operations continue without interruption, and I want you to know that you are appreciated.

LAFRA’s Board of Trustees consists of 18 active members/trustees and 3 pension/retired trustees. To the Board, I do not have enough room in this article to thank each and every one of you for everything you are contributing while working in the field or reaching out to our retired members in need. I appreciate your efforts in continuing to make yourselves available for the Committee and Board work that is needed to assist our members. In the fire service, we use the word “family” quite often to include co-workers at the office or fire station. This pandemic, in my opinion, will bring each Board Member, LAFRA employee, and the LAFD membership closer as a “family” while still remaining six feet apart.

Be safe out there!

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Jeff Cawdrey

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