By Michael Rossello
When faced with the loss of a family member, parent, friend, or boss, people often do similar things to cope and remember that person. Yet once the smoke settles, life goes back to a new normal. For many people, it’s hard to find peace, so they look for ways to honor that individual and keep their legacy alive. For a FedEx Express station out on eastern Long Island, this was the case.
Located in Calverton, New York, the smallest FedEx station on Long Island based upon personnel can be found. Due to its size, this location treats everyone who works there like family. It doesn’t matter if it’s the courier working next to you or the co-worker across the loading belt. You know each other’s stories, and when tragedy strikes, everyone feels it.
In most work families, there is a strong figure who not only sets the expectations but also does whatever it takes to treat the employees well. For this FedEx station, their Senior Manager was Mike Rossello. He treated them as if they were his family back home. Whether hosting summer BBQs, cooking breakfast, or having holiday parties, Rossello made sure his employees felt welcomed. They respected him and many would say he was the best boss they ever had. One important detail of this story is that their boss, Mike Rossello, was also my father.
On February 3, 2019, their work-life changed when Mike Rossello passed away from medical complications. The employees decided that they needed to do something in the spirit of him to represent his legacy. So, they created a community garden.
The people of this station felt that the best way to honor the man they respected and loved dearly was to deliver a dream he always talked about.
One employee said, "The idea about the garden came after years of Mike donating food to my church during the food drive. Mike was also aware of my involvement in feeding hot meals to kids once a month, and he donated to that too. One day while talking, he asked me what I thought about building a garden and donating fresh vegetables to the local soup kitchen or church pantry."
Though Mike passed away before his idea could become a reality, his FedEx family took on the task of fulfilling his dream over the course of 2019.
The garden was created by employees, friends, and family members who donated materials, money, time, and resources. Even the landscaper, who was an old friend of Rossello, donated wood and soil to the project. They filled the garden with a vast array of vegetables and plants and his favorite flower, the sunflower. “I get to be a part of it and feel happier knowing why we planted it. It’s a way to still feel as if Mike is with us,” said Denise Valka.
On August 27, 2019, a celebration was held at the FedEx station honoring Rossello and officially dedicating the garden as “The Michael Rossello Memorial Garden.”
“Mike Rossello gave his life for this company. Honoring him at 579 Edwards Ave in Calverton is the right thing to do. I’ve never met someone more devoted to his job and his employees. By honoring him with an idea that he came up with, just goes to show the giving nature of his heart,” said Jody Colon.
To the people of FedEx, this garden is not just a reminder of their former peer and friend but also a way to keep the legacy of Mike Rossello alive. They have goals and plans for the future of this garden. And for a company whose slogan is called the “purple promise,” they hope to deliver his promise.