America Strong: MTA worker cleans subway trains, sets example for daughters through COVID pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- An MTA employee who has worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic has been cleaning trains to keep essential workers safe.

"It's New York," Kenneth Mendez said. "You gotta keep on moving."

This report is a part of "America Strong," an Eyewitness News and ABC News series highlighting stories of strength and resiliency across the nation.

During the height of the pandemic, people like him kept the city going for doctors, nurses, and others who couldn't stay home.

"During the daytime, you would see the hospital workers and all the necessary people that had to be out here doing their jobs," he said. "So while everyone was at home, we were still here trying to make sure everything was good to go."

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Mendez has been with the MTA for 22 years, but 2020 was a year like no other.

Despite the uncertainty of COVID-19, he still went to work and made sure to take extra precautions when he went home.


"I would go home, and my kids would be like, 'Hey daddy,' and they would want to come and touch me," he said. "And I'd say, 'Just stay away. Let me, you know, undress, take a shower, and make sure everything's OK.'"

Jobs like his are often overlooked, but the appreciation from fellow New Yorkers during the ticker tape parade was something that will never be forgotten

"That was awesome," he said. "I mean, I couldn't believe it. We was in the float, and as we were going down, people were screaming. They were saying, 'Go MTA, thank you for your service.' It was awesome."
Mendez was also one of the first in the MTA to get vaccinated, and he encourages others to do the same

"Go get your shot," he said. "We still don't know what's going on out here, but it's better to have something than to have nothing at all."

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For Mendez, it's not just work. It's also about leaving a lasting legacy for his three daughters.
"I try to teach them that you have to have a good work mentality," he said. "You got to make sure that you come to work, do your job, and make sure you do the right thing."

"America Strong" is a multiplatform reporting series showcasing the strength and resilience of the nation. As Americans continue to confront extraordinary challenges brought on by the pandemic and extreme weather events, ABC News and Eyewitness News will profile neighbors helping community members in need and individuals finding new strength from within.



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