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LI mom, daughter put their art into thank-you for essential workers

Brynn Hlinko and her daughter, Tiana, gave a

Brynn Hlinko and her daughter, Tiana, gave a shout-out to essential workers on their Islip fence. Credit: Jose Martinez

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Brynn Hlinko lives on a bustling corner in Islip. Her home is across from a church and a 7-Eleven, and every day ambulances pass by on their way to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.

So being at the corner of all the action, Hlinko wanted to take an opportunity to say “thanks” in a big, colorful way.

With a box of chalk and a message in mind, on Thursday Hlinko and her 16-year-old daughter, Tiana, decided they would use their fence as a canvas.

“We were going to write ‘thank you front-line workers’ at first,” said Hlinko, 37. “But ‘essential workers’ includes everyone: people who work at the supermarket, liquor store, and mailmen.”

Tiana outlined the letters while her mother colored them in, opting for several different colors of chalk. They used painter’s tape to ensure the letters were straight and even. Within three or four hours, their tribute was complete: “Thank U Essential Workers.”

And it certainly stopped traffic.

“People were beeping and honking, getting out of their cars, and people are still stopping to take pictures,” Hlinko said. 

While they were still finishing their message, Hlinko said three people in hospital uniforms stopped to take photos. “Everyone stayed at least 10 feet apart in the street,” she said. Hlinko added that two of the people who stopped by were a nurse from Southside and a manager at McDonald’s. 

Hlinko also noted that her sanitation workers passing in their truck honked and waved, and Hlinko shouted back, “Thank you!”

Unfortunately the rain muddled their bright message a bit on Thursday evening.

“You can still read it; the letters are just a little bit lighter,” Hlinko said Friday. “When it’s dry, we’ll take the same color to each letter and just go over it again.”

Hlinko’s work has been deemed technically nonessential: She’s a substitute teacher for the Central Islip School District, a hairdresser and she owns a cleaning service. 

So before she gets back to work, Hlinko says, “I’m just doing whatever I can do to say thank you.”

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