Keep your distance, but don’t isolate yourself
by Ed Wendell
Mar 17, 2020 | 778 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was a Saturday afternoon in October of 2012. I was at the dog run in Forest Park watching the doggie costume party. The winner was a pug dressed like Marilyn Monroe. Spirits were high.

But beneath the laughter there was a layer of nervousness because of the storm that was approaching. All everyone could talk about was Hurricane Sandy.

People were stocking up on bread, eggs and milk. They were scrambling for candles and flashlights and batteries.

As we left the dog run, we ran into Loycent and Aisha Gordon of Neir’s Tavern and stopped to chat a bit. Loy asked me about Hurricane Sandy and how bad I thought it was going to be.

I waved away any concerns. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s all media hype, it’s not going to amount to anything. Trust me.”

That’s me, Nostradoofus.

Well, we all know how that turned out. And ever since then, I’ve wisely stayed out of the prediction business, especially when I’m tempted to double-down on the same exact prediction.

And so I’ll happily wash my arms and hands 12 times a day and try not to touch my face all day long. I’ll keep my distance from you if you keep your distance from me.

That part is hard for me, as I’m a hugger. But not anymore. Effective immediately, we will not shake hands or even bump fists. We’ll politely nod to each other and make a little joke about it. And then rush home to wash our hands.

So I won’t make any predictions or tell you what’s going to happen, except about destroying our economy, which I’d be very happy to be wrong about.

But another prediction I will make is that we’ll come through this okay. Not only will we be okay, we’ll shine. New Yorkers in general, and residents of Woodhaven in particular, have always come through in hard times.

Just like we did in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

While I was saying how that storm was going to fizzle, I had no idea that I’d spend the next two weeks as part of a huge effort by the residents of Woodhaven to help their neighbors.

It started small. We opened the doors of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association and posted an announcement online that we were accepting donations.

Within an hour we collected a table full of clothes and a few cases of bottled water. We were surprised how quickly people were coming with their arms full of donated items.

One woman came with boxes of clothing for small children, as hers had all outgrown them. A man came in with dozens of pairs of brand new work gloves.

Volunteers turned up day after day to sort through the piles of donations and organize them for the people in need. It was an amazing group effort, and I’ve never been more proud to be a resident of this community.

And I expect that we’ll come through again, though I’m not exactly sure what form the relief can take just yet. But for now, there are a few things we can all do.

First, limit your exposure to those who are vulnerable to the virus. You need to be very careful around the elderly and those who have health issues or weak immune systems.

But you can’t pass or catch the virus over the phone. So please do call and check on your friends, especially those in need. You can always help them by grabbing something they need at the grocery store and leaving it at their doorstep.

And sometimes just a phone call is enough for someone who is quarantined. Just a quick call to check if they’re fine, especially if they are alone. These are scary times for all of us, but more so if you’re by yourself.

We're very lucky here in Woodhaven to have our shops on Jamaica Avenue. While people were crowding and emptying out the big stores like Costco and BJ’s and Stop ‘n Shop, you could easily get what you needed at our supermarkets and corner bodegas and 99 cent stores.

And though our bars and restaurants are not seating people, you can still order takeout and get deliveries. Support these businesses now to help ensure that they'll still be there in a few weeks when this is all over.

So, that’s my advice. Keep your distance, wash up frequently, and check in on your friends and neighbors. And shop locally as much as you can.

We’ll get through this together, we always do.

That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it. Stay safe everyone, see you when this is all over.
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