Fenwick Island’s new personnel program will help employees in need, starting with a town police officer and his baby boy.
Town Council had a special meeting Nov. 5 just to consider and approve a Donated Leave Program.
“A donated leave program is a program open to employees [suffering from] … an injury, or who are required to care for a family member who is suffering from an illness or injury,” said Merritt Burke IV.
The requesting employee must have been with the town for six months; a doctor must have diagnosed the condition; and all of the vacation and sick leave must have been used.
The first employee to benefit will be Cpl. Stephen Lowe. Fenwick’s absence of a donated leave program arose when Lowe’s own sick leave expired.
Although he was unavailable for comment, Police Chief William Boyden has been a vocal supporter and fundraiser for the Lowe family since they discovered their baby had a neonatal heart defect. After Baby Coleton’s birth in mid-October, the first round of surgeries were tough, but successful.
“They’re good doing great, considering the circumstances,” Burke reported.
“He was gonna go without wages. This was a good time, I thought, for the council to consider” a donated leave program, Burke said. “Chief Boyden brought this to my attention, and I thought it was worthy of council’s attention … considering this is a standard type of leave program.”
The State of Delaware already uses this paid-leave program.
“It’s also a program that’s going to be able to assist an employee right away,” Burke said.
Any employee may donate sick leave to another person.
The donor must be an employee of at least five years to have accrued enough time to safely donate, without risk of being at a disadvantage if they fall ill. An individual can donate up to 80 hours per calendar year.
Between two Fenwick employees, Lowe has received an additional four weeks to tend to his child.
The measure passed unanimously on Nov. 5 with a quorum of four town councilmembers, although Burke said there was also support from council who were absent.
On behalf of the employees and councilmembers, Burke thanked the community for their support.
People can continue supporting the family and medical expenses by participating in the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, proceeds of which will be donated to the family.
Donations can also be delivered or mailed to PNC Bank; 1107 Coastal Hwy.; Fenwick Island, DE 19944 in the name of “Baby Lowe Account,” or to any PNC branch. Donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/babylowe.