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No Rescue Effort Needed for This AFSCME Couple

In an impromptu moment one day, Oren Barzilay suggested they get married immediately, and Tyiesha, to his astonishment, agreed. “We headed straight to City Hall and did it right then and there,” Tyiesha says. “It was like jumping off a bridge together, hoping we’d land on soft cushions, and by the grace of God, we did.”
By Pablo Ros ·
Tags: Our Stories
No Rescue Effort Needed for This AFSCME Couple
Tyiesha and Oren Barzilay at work during the New York City marathon. They’re pointing at Oren’s name on the coat he gave her because she’d forgotten hers that day. (Credit: Photo courtesy Oren Barzilay)

Sparks flew in the 911 dispatch center of the New York City Fire Department as Oren Barzilay first laid eyes on Tyiesha Hinton. “I couldn’t keep my eyes off her,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Wow! This girl is extremely pretty and very attractive.’”

It was Tyiesha’s first day in the Brooklyn communications center. Oren couldn’t concentrate on his work. As an EMT and 911 dispatcher, his job was to deal with real-life emergencies, but now he felt like he was having an emergency of his own.

“My partner Dawnette Waterman had to slap me in the back of the head a couple of times,” Oren says half-jokingly. “Fortunately nobody got hurt that day.”

Oren also was a steward for his local union, AFSCME Local 2507 (District Council 37). So he took the opportunity that day to walk over to Tyiesha, also an EMT and 911 dispatcher, and introduce himself. He told her a little bit about the union and offered his assistance.

“She just said, ‘Ok,’ and that was the end of the conversation,” Oren recalls. “But as time went by I kind of tried to get closer to her, engage in conversation with her, and I got her involved in union functions. She got involved in political action campaigns like the mayoral and governor’s elections, and later she joined us in organizing EMS workers in California, Local 4911. We were part of that original effort. The union definitely became a common interest that helped us get to know each other better.”

“Oren, always very cordial and respectful, started to invite me to different union functions,” Tyiesha recalls. “At first I didn’t know you could be so involved and my interest in union work grew. This had the effect of pulling us together, but the downfall was that we led very busy lives and couldn’t always commit our time to each other.”

It took Oren and Tyiesha several years to start dating and get to know each other better.

Then one day, in an impromptu moment, Oren suggested they get married, right now, without delay. And Tyiesha, to his astonishment, said, “Yes!”

“We headed straight to City Hall and did it right then and there,” Tyiesha says. “It was like jumping off a bridge together, hoping we’d land on soft cushions, and by the grace of God, we did.”

No rescue effort was needed for Oren and Tyiesha on March 5, 2014, when they jumped off the proverbial bridge together. Marriage has been a true blessing. They are deeply in love with each other.

“It’s been really amazing,” Tyiesha Barzilay says. “There’s never a dull moment!”

“She’s my best friend,” Oren says. “I have loved her for a very long time.”

Today, Tyiesha is retired from the NYC Fire Department and works as a nurse in a nursing home in Pennsylvania, where she and Oren bought a house. They have plans to travel and to expand their family. Tyiesha is learning Hebrew because Oren is from Israel.

“She’s a very unique person,” Oren says. “She has a heart of gold, a charming personality. She is very down to earth, easygoing, and her smile is amazing.”

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