Asset Publisher Asset Publisher

Redefining What's Essential

Redefining What's Essential


Morristown, N.J. (May 20, 2020) – Frank Rossi, '22, takes pride in being an essential employee. He works six to eight hours a day at ShopRite, ensuring that shoppers have a safe and easy time obtaining their food. As a grocery store clerk, Frank has to have his temperature taken each day before he begins his shift.

"The worst part is the risk of getting sick," explains Frank, a double major in criminal justice and history at the Saint Elizabeth University. "Other than that, working isn't as bad as people might think."

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Frank never considered just how integral his job was to the functioning of society. However, the virus highlighted the significance of a steady, robust food supply more than ever. The availability of sustenance reduces anxiety and enables people to comfortably stay at home without fear.

"I feel like I'm doing a service for my community," says Frank. "I love helping people and giving groceries to people who need it feels really good."

Unfortunately, Frank's job isn't without its challenges. He has to wear a face mask at all times and distance himself from others. His store recently made aisles one way to reduce overcrowding and avoid the possible spread of infection. The sheer number of shoppers and intensity of the work required to keep them all safe can be emotionally draining.

"It makes a difference when the customers thank the employees," says Frank, who is deeply appreciative of the number of people who have expressed gratitude for his hard work. "It helps because the job can be difficult mentally."

Luckily, Frank's professors understood the stress he was under as an essential worker and accommodated his schedule by being flexible about due dates. Their kindness allowed Frank to support his community while not falling behind in his education.