Helping in Times of Crisis…Countering COVID-19

It has affected everyone.  The Alliance for Downtown New York’s President, Jessica Lapin recently articulated this sentiment when she said:

“There is not one storefront business in New York City that has been spared by COVID-19. Every one of them is struggling. We are stepping up to do what we can to help our stores keep their lights on.”

The Downtown Alliance was set up in 1995 in an attempt to “enhance the quality of life in Lower Manhattan.”  This is exactly the time it is probably needed the most.

Now, the organization is working on a program that will help storefront businesses in Lower Manhattan.  Through this it will offer grants worth up to $800,000.  Known as the Small Business Rental Assistance Grant this will help shops that have been providing essential services to local residents and workers, it has been funded with significant contributions from: Brookfield Properties, the Howard Hughes Corporation and Silverstein Properties. The Downtown Alliance has also given a contribution of $250,000.

Jayme Albin: Working with an Infant Daughter at Home During COVID-19

Clinical Psychologist Jayme Albin, PhD is a holistic therapist with a background in psychology, banking and finance. Today Jayme Albin offers her clients a holistic approach to complete wellness. Experience in all of these areas over the years has enabled her to offer support to clients in her Manhattan clinic dealing with the repercussions of the novel coronavirus.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many people have not been able to visit their therapists. But they are learning to see their practitioners online.  However, another issue has been that many parents have been forced to set up their work station at home, rather than their office.  This has ruined their routine and has undoubtedly led to additional psychological problems.  Plus, many have lost childcare options so are having to navigate their work tasks while playing “peekaboo” with their baby daughter or son!

In a recent article published by Thrive Global, Jayme Albin offered the following five point advice for dealing with the current situation. We asked her a few questions about the topics she covered:

1.    How important is stick to a schedule?

Jayme Albin: Sticking to a Schedule can be abolustly key to navigating a healthy and succesful lockdown with your infant

2.     How important is seting up your space?

Jayme Albin: Having a clearly defined space for you to do work is a crucial step to being productive at home.

3.     How important is it to fit in fitness?

Jayme Albin: Many of us have just been trying to survive during this period. However, without leaving our house, the lack of exercise can lead to feeling lathargic and harm productivity substantially. Make sure to fit in at least 30 minutes of physical work a day.

4.     How important is it to build in Breaks throughout your day?

Jayme Albin: Setting up scheduled breaks will allow you to seperate your work and home time, as well as give you scheduled time to give attention to your infant daughter or son.

5.     Should one be mindful of their daily meals?

Jayme Albin: This is another area where we often neglact structure and eat when we are hungry. Maintaining a strcutred day is crucial for both you and your infant. My infant daughter and I have quality time together over my scheduled meal breaks – at least 3 a day.

Over the years, Dr. Albin has been using CBT methods to help her clients with weight loss and maintenance, nutrition, anxiety and phobias.  Now more than ever, these are exactly the issues that New Yorkers are encountering as they learn to navigate their new – and very different – reality. 

Learning Kindnesses

School is mandatory for so many reasons but if graduates come out knowing how to be kind that is an added bonus. One Manhattan teacher – Christine Drago – has been using the coronavirus pandemic to work just that. The PS 20 Anna Silver School Phys. Ed. Teacher who has been teaching at the school for the last eight years explained:

“You’re a teacher, you’re a coach. Sometimes you’re a guidance counselor. You are listening to problems they have. You are a friend. You play a lot of different roles.”

Drago has seen many different needs emerge during this time from this underserved community. Her response has been to approach local organizations and formulate regional partnerships. This has resulted in food distribution to the needy including roasted chickens, produce, eggs, and grains which are being delivered every Friday. As for her students Drago has been putting out workout videos for them that they can do with their entire families to get them up and move. One example of this was when she made a Tic-Tac-Toe tutorial and her students sent back videos of their whole families engaging in it.

Other people also seem to be naturally moving toward acts of kindness as Amanda Hess wrote last month in The New York Times with the “clapping” that has been taking place in different neighborhoods in thanks to healthcare workers. She explained:

“It’s a cliché to describe a performance as “life-affirming,” but here the description feels true. I like it for smaller reasons, though. Like many New Yorkers, I don’t know most of my neighbors, and I’ve found myself using these few minutes every night to gather clues to their domestic lives. I notice who emerges from sprawling multistory brownstones and who from apartment buildings. One night the man with the pot was joined by a companion banging her own kitchenware. Another time, the spaniel failed to appear, and I reveled in my exaggerated disappointment. Did the dog have a previous engagement?”

Earlier on in the COVID-19 crisis an Associated Press meeting led to photojournalist Sally Stapleton’s promotion of a story of a Norwegian homebound woman who had used her Facebook page to ask for birthday greetings for her children. The response worldwide was incredible. And then there was the case of the New York college student who had to go home once classes were suspended and ended up organizing 1,300 volunteers in three days to help with deliveries for shut-ins.

Over this time, Fox News has assembled 700+ web- and TV-based stories under its ‘America Together’ banner.

SoHo’s Service in the Time of COVID-19

During this challenging time for many, there has simultaneously been a great deal of kindness and goodwill.  At the end of last month, local eatery Chobani Café followed suit.

Offering healthy fare of sandwiches, nutritious yogurts, fresh produce and more, the Café has now become a temporary food pantry for the entire community.  Anyone in the neighborhood is welcome to come and enjoy free food during this hard time.  They are “here to help.”

Following the social distancing guidelines and safety in order to beat COVID-19 the restaurant is open twice a week to hand out free products and support families and workers.  It is now staffed by both volunteers from #BeAShepherd and its regular employees.  The idea right now is to “give back to [the] local neighborhood and donate nutritious food to those in need.”

Opening a Restaurant During These Times

It wouldn’t be the best time to open a restaurant.  When most have closed and only a handful remain for deliveries, the industry has been one of the most hard hit with COVID-19.  But just a couple of weeks ago that’s exactly what Adam Leonti and Paul Shaked did in Little Italy, New York.

Sofia’s Panificio e Vino has opened yes, but not under its original planning.  However, the restaurateur (Shaked) and chef (Leonti) have adapted to the current COVID-19 inflicted circumstances.  They set up a deliver and to-go menu.

Situated on Mulberry Street (where Sofia’s of Little Italy once was – a business run by Shaked’s family) Shaked explained how Little Italy may sometimes “feel like this forgotten corner of Manhattan [but that opening his restaurant there has been “a way to reinvigorate and highlight what is a culturally rich and historic neighborhood.”

Chef Leonti is famous for Leonti in the Upper West Side that closed a few months ago and for the establishment of the Brooklyn Bread Lab.

Kindness in Times of Corona

In these distressing times it’s sometimes quite wonderful to see just how incredible community members can be toward each other.  True it’s very difficult, challenging and potentially incredibly depressing but there are also so many positive things happening everywhere and in Below 14 communities, we have seen many such cases.

Delancey Street Seafood restaurant Grey Lady is using this opportunity to show kindness and consideration to the local community.  Chef Tadd Johnson spent an entire week preparing 30 gallons of different types of soup to give out to those in need in the community.  Together with its sister eatery Canary Club, these “protein and produce” bursting soups have been made in three delicious flavors: broccoli-cheddar, potato-leek mushroom and seafood chowder.

When we used to walk around the Lower East Side we may have seen the odd looking posters…what are they?  They are perhaps CovId-19 art, photos of people kissing while wearing surgical masks as a general call for doing this together, getting through as a nation, and holding on while the world takes a breath (inside) during the pandemic.

The Act of Love is a street art campaign created by Arina Voronova who explained:

“While scientists are working on finding a cure for the virus, we, humans, can only spread love and support each other.”

There are around 500 posters but an additional 500 will be distributed around New York in the coming days.  Another goal of the project is to make people aware of Asian American discrimination during these days.

People to See, Places to Go

Downtown Manhattan is always hopping with activity. Today, Glittering Places of Detroit Concert is happening at the Roseville Public Library on Gratiot Avenue, Roseville starting at 6:30 p.m.  You will be privy to a wonderful show about the critical role Detroit had in the development of Jazz.  Performed by vocal artist Pam Jaslove, there is music, a slide show and so much more.  It’s a great opportunity for the entire family to learn about the 1920s Jazz Age.

Two days from now the Chesterfield Township Library on Patricia Street is hosting a Marvels of Motion program between 2 and 2.45pm.  Mad Science will present the event which will discuss Newton’s three laws of motion in action.  This is set to be a real hands-on experience for the whole family, featuring competitions, physics education, sports and real experiments.

Next Tuesday at 6pm take the whole family and head back to Roseville Public Library for Up the Lazy River journey.  Use your imagination and try to see yourself on Tashmoo – a sidewheel steamboat – going from Toledo, starting in Detroit.  Take a trip back in time and look at the lighthouses that have disappeared over time as well as other attractions from the early 20th century that we can still see but have basically faded.  Learn all about the SS Tashmoo.