presented by Vision Long Island and the Long Island Main Street Alliance
April 21st, 2020
Quotes of Day
Helping Main Street through the
Michael Talbert, Wyandanch Pastor
Wyandanch community pastor Michael V. Talbert, who served his community faithfully for 28 years, has passed away at the age of 63 years.
Originally born in Louisiana, Talbert came to Wyandanch in 1992 when an acquaintance alerted him to the First Baptist Church’s search for a new pastor. While there he became a pillar of his community and served many functions that included serving as the schoolboard president and volunteer assistant for the Wyandanch High School boys basketball team.
Pastor Talbert was also a strong advocate for financial responsibility and independence, often preaching it in his sermons. As part of that he started Faith Community Builders, which helped to foster homeownership for families of all income levels. Through that organization he would connect his parishioners with banks that helped them reach their goal of owning a home.
“He’s kept a lot of roofs over people’s heads who would otherwise have left Long Island or couldn’t have made it here,” said his wife Gina Talbert.
Mr. Talbert is survived by his wife Gina, daughters, Alayna and Abigail, and sons, Michael Jr. and Aaron, all of Port Jefferson Station; sisters, Pauline Talbert, Elizabeth Self and Debra Phillips, all of Louisiana; brothers, Lawrence Talbert, Ezekiel Talbert, Alex Talbert and Curtis Grant, all of Louisiana.
Vision Long Island expresses our deepest condolences to Pastor Talbert’s family and for the loss of someone who worked so tirelessly to provide for others while propping up his community and Long Island as a whole.
Ray Pickersgill, Riverhead BID
The longtime president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, Ray Pickersgill, passed away last Monday at Stony Brook University at the age of 71.
Mr. Pickersgill was the owner of the Robert James Salon in downtown Riverhead along with his wife Margaret and daughter Lisa. He was also named the Riverhead News-Review’s Businessperson of the Year in 2008 thanks to his pivotal role in helping to rebuild a struggling Riverhead downtown. He had previously served as a member of the Riverhead Business Improvement Districts Management Association until 2016 and was the president until 2016.
He was also the founder of many of the local events that take place around Riverhead including the the Cardboard Boat Race, the indoor Farmers Market, Alive on 25, the Fourth of July fireworks show and concerts, the antique car show, and the Edgar Allen Poe Festival (now the Halloween Fest).
“He was one of the hardest working volunteers that I believe the town has had in a long time,” said Bill Allan, who served alongside Mr. Pickersgill on the BID. “He pretty much gave of his time from his business to work on town events, and he was one of the most concerned individuals as far as the direction of the town.”
Vision Long Island is saddened to see the passing of such a passionate advocate for Riverhead’s downtown revival. We offer our prayers to his family, friends, colleagues, and loved ones.
At this time of uncertainty, we are beginning to see a number of downtowns being shuttered as bars, restaurants, and any place where multiple people congregate are running up against fears of and caution at spreading the Coronavirus. While this is a socially responsible action that will help to save lives, in the short term these actions are having a number of adverse effects on our local communities.
Vision Long Island and Long Island Main Street Alliance members have collected a number of experiences from local restaurants and service businesses, but before we go into that we would like to encourage everyone reading this to find a way to responsibly patronize local establishments. Many stores are offering curbside pickup or online shopping to help them get through this difficult time. And your favorite restaurants are also currently open for business with takeout available.
We also urge you to consider gift cards in order to purchase something at a later date for yourself, or perhaps to give as a present.
Local shops are in a capable position to provide you with what you need in the short-term. Many will also be willing to accommodate you if you contact them ahead of time with requests that will minimize contact and help to lower the spread of this virus.
Vision has connected to over 525 small businesses in over 45 downtowns as they weather the economic storm through the Coronavirus. We encourage people to responsibly patronize these and other open establishments who need your help in this time of crisis.
Many of these businesses have been there for local organizations and philanthropy - they now need our support.
In the meantime, here is the featured downtown for today.
For a complete list of downtowns profiles, please check out our website here.
Friday April 17th day 33 of the Coronavirus shutdown took us to the community of Wyandanch
Wyandanch’s downtown has been undergoing a revitalization process for many years. A renovated train station with a parking garage, youth center, health center, ambulance corp, renovated post office, new housing development and plaza space have all been part of the areas improvements over the last two decades. Sewers were put in place for the business district and their main street, Straight Path, was narrowed to create some needed traffic calming to improve walkability.
Originally the Wyandanch Weed and Seed coalition, Wyandanch Rising initiative, Wyandanch Community Development Corp, Library District, School District, Wyandanch Leaders Network, community churches, emergency services the Town of Babylon, Suffolk County and many others have all taken part in these initiatives. The Wyandanch Plaza Association manages the many community activities at the public space by the train which includes major holiday themed events, cultural activities, dance, art, music and an ice rink.
With the shutdown forced by the Coronavirus crisis like many downtowns the focus shifts to immediate needs of food, health and income support which are addressed by multiple layers of government, community organizations and churches.
There are businesses that are open through the shutdown and local groups are encouraging residents to support them.
Here is a selection of restaurants open for take out or delivery:
Bella Oriente Restaurant Deli (631) 586-0893
Brooklyn Fish, Chicken, and Soul Food (631) 920-5800
Crown Fried Chicken (631) 920-5200
Dah Wah Chinese Kitchen (631) 643-7444
Jocoro Deli (631) 920-0098
“Spread the love, Not the virus.” Kevin Aburto
Calling Kevin Aburto selfless is an understatement. This Valley Stream resident, with a long history of helping others and promoting good causes, has stepped up and stepped out to provide COVID-19 relief to so many people.
“I know things are hectic right now because of the virus. If you’re elderly, disabled, or someone who’s sick and can’t leave the house, please don’t hesitate to message or call me if you need anything,” Aburto advised his community in mid-March. “If you’re low on food, sanitary products, medication… I will be more than happy to drop off anything you need to your front door.” Aburto even volunteered to check in on people who were alone.
Aburto started collecting food from the community for the food pantries at Holy Name of Mary and Blessed Sacrament churches, where supply had run low, and to the Monica Village senior apartments in Valley Stream. From there, his efforts accelerated.
On March 25th, Aburto started a Go Fund Me page. “I started this account to help feed families that have been laid off due to the business shut down and also for the nurses, EMS, EMTs, volunteer fire fighters, sanitation workers, grocery workers and anyone else who is fighting on the front line of the COVID-19 virus,” Aburto explained. Very quickly, the donations started rolling in. The page has raised almost $8,500 and the support of area businesses continues to surge.
As of April 15th, Aburto and numerous volunteers have fed over 4,800 people, including first responders, essential workers, laid off employees and so many more. Just some of the locations Aburto has visited include Long Island Jewish in Valley Stream, the Village of Valley Stream Fire Department, Harlem Hospital, King Kullen in Valley Stream, the Valley Stream Post Office, FDNY Station 19, Mount Sinai in Oceanside, Lynbrook Police Department, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Nassau County 1st, 4th and 5th Precincts, Long Island Jewish ICU Unit in Valley Stream, Mercy Medical Center, Elmhurst Hospital, the night shift ICU Unit at Kings County Hospital, and the list goes on.
Aburto’s message is simple: Spread the love, not the virus. “If you can donate a dollar that would help. I understand things are tough at the moment and if you’re unable to donate you can help us by sharing this campaign to your community, family, friends and co-workers,” says Aburto.
A tremendous shout out of appreciation and respect to Kevin, each and every donor and volunteer. If you would like to donate, visit the Help feed NY COVID19 victims and first responders GoFundMe page.
Governor Cuomo Announces Elective Outpatient Treatment Can Resume in Certain Counties
The following is an update from the Governor's website:
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced elective outpatient treatments can resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term. Hospitals will be able to resume performing elective outpatient treatments on April 28, 2020 if the hospital capacity is over 25 percent for the county and if there have been fewer than 10 new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the county over the past 10 days. If a hospital is located in a county eligible to resume elective outpatient treatments, but that hospital has a capacity under 25 percent or has had more than 10 new hospitalizations in the past 10 days, that hospital is not eligible to resume elective surgeries. If a county or hospital that has resumed elective surgery experiences a decrease in hospital capacity below the 25 percent threshold or an increase of 10 or more new hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, elective surgeries must cease. Further, patients must test negative for COVID-19 prior to any elective outpatient treatment. The State Department of Health will issue guidance on resuming elective surgeries.
Restrictions on elective surgery will remain in place in Bronx, Queens, Rockland, Nassau, Clinton, Yates, Westchester, Albany, Richmond, Schuyler, Kings, Suffolk, New York, Dutchess, Sullivan, Ulster, Erie, Orange and Rensselaer Counties as the state continues to monitor the rate of new COVID-19 infections in the region.
Governor Cuomo also announced the state will take a regional approach to reopening and will make decisions on which counties and regions to open and when to open them based on the facts and data specific to that area. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will coordinate Western New York's public health and reopening strategy, and former Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy will volunteer as a special advisor to coordinate the Finger Lakes' public health and reopening strategy.
The Governor also announced he will be meeting with President Trump at the White House today to discuss testing.
"As New York continues to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 infections, we are now ready to lift the restrictions on elective surgeries in regions where hospital capacity and the rate of new infections do not present a significant risk of a surge in new positive cases," Governor Cuomo said. "It is essential that we continue to support hospitals and health care workers in all regions to ensure they have both capacity and supplies to treat COVID patients because this virus is by no means defeated."
Finally, the Governor confirmed 4,178 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 251,690 confirmed cases in New York State.
You can watch the full press conference from today here.
Michael Dowling of Northwell Health Named to Multistate Council to Restore Economy
As part of the inevitable recovery period from the Coronavirus shutdown, our region will need to focus on how best to reopen a stalled economy. Part of that will be left up to a seven state council that will be comprised of one health and one economic expert along with the Governor’s chief of staff from each state.
The states involved in the council include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
As its contribution, New York State has named Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Governo Cuomo, Robert Mujica, the director of the state Division of the Budget, and Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health.
Mr. Dowling represents one of the region’s leading voices on public health and has been at the forefront of testing for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. He has done a fantastic job guiding us through public health portion of the ongoing crisis and is an excellent fit for this job.
You can read more at Huntington Now.
Publicly Traded Firms Receive $300 million in Small Business Loans
In a move that has highlighted the ineptitude of a system designed to help struggling Main Street businesses, a recent report has identified 75 publicly traded companies have received over $300 million in small business loans. Eight of those 75 identified companies received the maximum $10 million loan.
Some of the companies who benefitted from these loans had thousands of employees, past penalties from government investigations and were at risk of financial failure even before the coronavirus shutdown. Some of the companies even had market values well in excess of $100 million when they received low-interest, taxpayer funded loans that were meant to keep small businesses afloat.
What makes this news particularly disturbing is that the report comes from only a partial investigation of the full list of businesses that received loans. This indicates the 75 businesses already identified could only be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to large businesses appropriating funds that may be better served propping up Main Street.
The initial relief package that was meant to help small businesses has seen a number of criticisms. The process has been plagued with slow response times and numerous questions along with complaints that funds aren’t actually reaching mom-and-pop stores need it the most. Without this much needed funds, most of these actual small businesses could see the end of their businesses. Meanwhile, companies that are worth hundreds, if not millions, of dollars and have thousands of employees seem to be having little to no problems receiving the maximum loan amount.
Already we are seeing stories where national chains such as Potbelly, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and Taco Cabana were able to receive the maximum available amount. Shake Shack also received $10 million, but returned the loan after a furor was raised over it. There also examples of companies that seem to have enough cash on hand to survive the downturn receiving loans. Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, for example, is a cruise ship company based in New York with $137 million in cash who was able to receive a $6.6 million loan.
These are just examples, but they really highlight the need for the US government to put safeguards in place in the next round of funding meant to help small businesses. The Main Street businesses that are the lifeblood of local communities need to be given a fair chance to apply for funds before major national chains scoop up available loans when they’re not strictly needed in the short term.
You can read more at Long Island Business News.
Grocery and Pharmacy Workers are Making a Huge Difference
The following is an op-ed by John Durso originally printed in Long Island Business News:
Every day I am amazed by the dedication of the working people I am so proud and honored to represent as President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. While the heroes of this battle against COVID-19 are truly our magnificent health care professionals and first responders, there is also a group of unsung heroes who also go to work and take care of the public every day. In “normal” times, these heroes often go unnoticed and have been brought to the spotlight because of the crisis we’re facing.
The workers I’m referring to are those who work in grocery stores and pharmacies in our region and across the country. They are the cashiers checking out your items, the pharmacy tech handing you your prescriptions, the deli clerks and butchers, those keeping the stores clean, and what seems most important of all lately, the stocker unloading bread and toilet paper on to bare shelves before the rush starts again. These unsung heroes leave their families, some dropping their children off at childcare first and others, traveling by public transportation in order to start another day doing work that is crucial for us.
If you have never worked in a grocery store or a pharmacy, you have not experienced what it’s like to have a store overwhelmed because of an impending snowstorm or hurricane. However, you have likely experienced this as customer. Local 338 members have described what they’re seeing in their stores as “two snowstorms and a hurricane on steroids.” For many of the stores who typically average 500 customers a day, they have now seen that number increase to 2,000 people a day. Naturally, workers are incredibly worried about how this virus will affect them and their families, but they have also taken on extra shifts, working six days a week at often 10 to 12 hours a day, all to try to keep some sense of normalcy for the public.
As a customer, you might have noticed that it took some time for the stores to put the proper safety measures needed to protect their employees in place. Please know that for most companies, it was not due to a lack of concern, but for an inability to access these items. Today, thousands of Local 338 members have access to gloves, masks, and soap or hand sanitizer and are working behind plexiglass shield guards if they are a cashier. Unfortunately, not all workers and stores are as properly supplied. However, this is a unique instance where union and management alike are working together to source these PPEs and sanitizing products to make sure both the workers and the public stay safe.
While schools and “nonessential” businesses, like traditional retail, are closed or have shifted to remote operations, those working in grocery stores and pharmacies continue to go to work every day. You may wonder why they do it or why they take the risk? Many Local 338 members (and others working in the field) have told me that they see themselves as simply doing their job and wouldn’t compare themselves to other frontline heroes like doctors or nurses. However, they also recognize that now, more than ever, they are working in places that truly are the keystone holding our communities together.
For that, we should recognize the workers of grocery stores and pharmacies as the public servants they are and give them the gratitude they certainly have earned. The next time you find yourself in your local grocery store or pharmacy, please be kind and take a moment to thank them for risking being out in order to help take care of you and your families. And please, if you don’t have to be out, stay home. That choice can help save an essential worker who does not have a similar choice.
John Durso is president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW and president of the Long Island Federation of Labor Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.
CDC Guidelines on Coronavirus Prevention
As concern about the ever-expanding impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) grows, we can minimize or prevent the spread of coronavirus by taking these steps:
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
For more information see the CDC website or call the NY State Coronavirus hotline to speak with a representative 888-364-3065
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