Campus, Coronavirus, News

BU Parents United fundraises for memorial benches to honor custodians who died from COVID-19

gofundme page in memory of boston university custodians
GoFundMe fundraiser in memory of Juber Lopez and Jose Ferreira, two BU custodians who passed away from COVID-19 in January. Boston University Parents United started the campaign Wednesday to raise money for memorial benches honoring Lopez and Ferreira. ILLUSTRATION BY HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

BU Parents United — a Facebook group for parents of Boston University students — started a GoFundMe Wednesday to place memorial benches on the BU Beach for two university custodians who died from COVID-19 complications in January.

The fundraiser, in memory of Juber Lopez and Jose Ferreira, exceeded its initial goal of $5,000 to raise more than $5,600 from more than 100 donors and is set to close Friday.

BU Parents United founder Alessandra Kellermann said the group intends to place two benches — one for Ferreira and one for Lopez — engraved with their names, birth and death years as well as the phrase “A life that touches others goes on forever,” in accordance with their family’s wishes.

Kellermann said the group started the GoFundMe as a way of supporting the families of the two former employees, and added that funds left over from the cost of the benches will go directly to their loved ones.

“I didn’t see anything that was clear that had been done for the families yet,” Kellermann said. “I thought that it would be nice if we did something for the families, because it’s been such a tough year for everybody.”

She said the two custodians’ deaths were a major loss for the BU community, and they needed to be remembered for their contributions to the university.

“It’s also a tragedy,” Kellermann said, “because these were the gentlemen who were on staff cleaning up and keeping the environment safe for everybody else.”

The families asked for the benches to be placed at the BU Beach because both Ferreira and Lopez regularly took breaks there, she said.

“They would walk down there and see all the students,” Kellermann said. “They talked to their families when they came home at night about how the students were managing to get breaks, too, even though they were studying really hard, and that made them happy.”

BU Parents United chose memorial benches, Kellermann noted, because students could “enjoy” them while still honoring Lopez and Ferreira. The GoFundMe also had a wide reach after being shared extensively on social media, Kellermann said.

“It’s important to know that just the entire Boston community and even alumni from all over the world have learned about it,” she said.

Kellermann said she is coordinating with Ferreira’s son-in-law Michael Florio, a BU custodian at Warren Towers, who is planning on helping to set up the benches.

Teresa Florio, Ferreira’s daughter, said she is grateful and appreciative of the group’s gesture.

“It means a great deal,” Teresa Florio said, “and I’m very thankful for these parents to reach out to me in honor of both custodians who have worked really hard and have given their all for this university.”

Teresa Florio said she donated to honor the dedication of both men, and noted her father had kept working while battling cancer.

“These guys have dedicated their lives,” Florio said. “My dad with lung cancer and trying to fight for that and things got really worse, but he kept working and that’s how much he was dedicated.”

Bianca Lopez, daughter of Juber Lopez, also said she also appreciated the gesture.

“It makes me proud because he worked for BU for 23 years,” Bianca Lopez said. “He really appreciated his job.”

Kellermann said Juber Lopez and Ferreira’s dedication to their work is what touched her and motivated her to start this fundraiser.

“They have no regrets, they knew the risk and they were careful,” Kellermann said. “They wanted the environment safe for Terriers and the students they really cared about, and they did it with pride.”

The University could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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  1. We have the most amazing group of compassionate and kind parents who deserve the credit here for helping make this happen. They voted on Memorial Benches to bring permanent meaning and honor to their sacrifices as custodians. Terriers including my son, have joined in and donated. Alumni and Bostonians have donated. Staff and faculty have donated. We have remembered our shared humanity and somewhere somehow we can feel inspiration from these two exceptional custodians gone too soon.

    • So grateful for this BU Parents United Group. The group members especially Ms.Alessandra Kellerman have been supporting each other throughout the pandemic year. To end the year to recognize our wonderful custodians who supported our BU students is a wonderful initiative. These custodians are our heroes. I hope that the families know that we are forever grateful. So proud of this amazing parent group.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to 2 frontline workers at Boston University. Their lives meant a lot, not to just their families but to the thousands of students they cared for over the years. Here is the link.., no donation is too small or too big! Thank you BU Parents United for organizing this tribute!

  3. I’m so proud to be a part of the BU Parents United group! We have over 1000 members supporting each other through all the challenges of parenting a university student, not to mention during a pandemic! With the blessings of the Lopez and Ferreira families, we were able to raise enough funds for memorial benches to honor these two men for their years of service at BU. I don’t know how many of our kids knew Juber and Jose by name, but they will now!

  4. A thoughtful way to remember these two gentlemen who supported BU, not only for many years, but through this challenging time.

  5. It was an honor to contribute in a small way to this beautiful memorial. BU Parents United is such a supportive and inclusive group. Thank you to Alessandra for setting up this fundraiser and to all who donated. What a wonderful lasting tribute to two such special individuals, and their families, who gave so much to the BU community!

  6. What is life without being helpful to others? Certainly these two men knew that, and we are able to honor them in a way that would keep their memory alive. We leave our children at BU and hope and pray they are ok, that they are safe, that they thrive. We are so grateful to people like these two gentlemen who helped our kids along on their journey. Our group supports one another and we support our community. So glad to be able to give to these families a lasting memory of their family members!

  7. I am so proud of being part of this BU Parents United community! It’s a privilege to show our love and appreciation to our BU heroes. Please consider to donate:

    • Thanks to dear Allesendra for this wonderful empathetic gesture of setting up this fundraiser as a tribute to the two gentlemen who will always be remembered by BU ! Proud to be a part of this wonderful BU parents community so that we all keep supporting each other in turn supporting BU and setting up an example for our Terriers who are the future of the nation !coming together in these tough times means a lot to all of us ! God bless ! Stay safe everyone !

  8. I am so proud to be part of the BU Parents United group. This is a way to thank and remember two amazing gentleman that work tireless during this pandemic. Their names will not be in vane, they will be remember for their great job at BU. Our Terriers and our families are amazingly grateful for their hard work.

  9. Vivian Scardigno

    Such a wonderful way to honor these two beautiful souls. I’m proud to be part of such a caring community.

  10. This fundraiser should bring a question to the forefront of everyone’s mind: when is the last time you said thank you to custodial staff during the pandemic or even before it? Oftentimes these critical workers are overlooked in everyday life and their sacrifices are never recognized until something tragic happens. We should all change that reality.

  11. As a proud member of BU United, a group founded by the tireless Alessandra Kellerman, who works to help support BU parents, no matter what the worry or concern, I am grateful to be able to thank these men who worked to keep our students safe. Much love and gratitude to the families of these wonderful men.

  12. BU United is a community that has become family in its unwavering support of students, parents, staff and the BU experience. Allesandra Kellerman the knowledgeable, fearless founder of BU United has provided this mom the answers to a tireless amount of questions that come with having a freshman . Finding a way to support the two gentleman who were vital in the continual operation of BU during this tragic pandemic is just one of the reasons I cherish the family that is BU United.