Community Drawn Together Despite Disaster

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People all over the community are coming together to make a difference right now. (Photo courtesy of the Staff Meals Facebook group)

BY SABRINA GUO

The impact of COVID-19 has been noticeably devastating for the Long Island community as a whole.

However, there seems to be a ray of hope in the community during these dark and uncertain times.

At the time of writing, Long Island has more than 27,000 cases of coronavirus. This has overwhelmed local hospitals and put many healthcare workers and first responders on the brink of exhaustion, while also impacting many local businesses.

Fortunately, some active citizens haven’t given up, and have responded to the cries for help. Multiple members of the Syosset, Jericho and Plainview communities have united to support those in need in a myriad of ways.

Affirming the strength of the human spirit, local organizers and associations have begun
running various fundraisers and relief efforts, all coming together to donate their time and money and mobilizing their communities into action.

Student groups like Long Island Laboring Against COVID-19 and Students Combat Corona are raising funds to support both the medical and business communities, respectively.

One major example of local tenacity is a Facebook group called Staff Meals, which began as a coalition of moms seeking to do their part and feed their community.

Jennifer Biren, who is one of the founding members and administrators, shared her thoughts the day she sent out her first message on Facebook.

“On March 20, I woke up and thought, ‘What could I do from home to help,'” Biren said. “I thought about all of Plainview hospital workers on the frontline. This is our community. I then hooked up with Jason and Raquel Rabinowitz and Lisa Lieberman who were doing this in Syosset.

“I am so thankful to have met all these great people on my team who have helped to support not only hospital employees but police officers, EMTs and all frontline workers.”

Staff Meals connects with local restaurants and businesses to organize a system where
they can donate meals, coffee and groceries to our local hospitals.

They have now attracted more than 1,000 members and raised more than $25,000 for the surrounding Syosset and Plainview communities.

Jason and Raquel Rabinowitz, who are the other founders of the page, were also moved by all the hardworking hospital staff inundated with patients.

“We couldn’t help but take something off their plates by feeding them,” they said. “Seeing the community come together doing what they can to show their appreciation has been phenomenal, a shining light during this dark time.

“Banding together, not only are we supporting our first responders, we’re supporting our local restaurants, which need to survive during these challenging times.”

Another example of community action has been a number of Chinese-American associations across Long Island, who have banded together to raise money for PPE, like the
Chinese American Association of Jericho and the Chinese American Association of Syosset.

The Long Island Chinese American Association (LICAA) has raised over $94,000 alone. Last week, they donated 37,000 surgical masks and nearly 3,500 KN95 masks to ten hospitals including Nassau University Medical Center, Mount Sinai South Nassau and Stony Brook
University Hospital, with more donations incoming to surrounding areas.

The community has received this outpouring of support with open arms and a thankful heart. In a mutually beneficial transaction, many businesses are continuing to survive because of the donations that go to purchasing meals for the overwhelmed and busy hospital staff.

Community Relations Manager Christine Patti was overjoyed with all of the much-needed help from all age groups, and shared what organizers were doing to help.

“It’s particularly inspiring to see young people in our community getting involved and
taking a grassroots approach to helping others,” Patti said.“We recently set up a small grocery store on-site for our employees, where we have been providing necessary items like toilet paper, bottled water, paper goods and non-perishable foods for our staff.

“We hope by doing this we can help alleviate some of the added stress of whether the local grocery stores will have the items they need to feed their families.”

Despite, or perhaps because of, the current public health crisis, many people are slowing
down and coming to terms with the fact that we are truly all dependent on one another.

The Long Island community is coming together to support each other in an astounding and inspirational way.

We still have much to face, though, with such proactive and exemplary feats of kindness, compassion and conscientiousness, we’ll not see a battle drawn out, but also a community drawn in.

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