Acts of Kindness and Light During a Dark Pandemic

Crisis situations can bring out the very best in people.  Yes, we’ve all read of individuals hoarding toilet paper, refusing to comply with social distancing, and trying to overcharge for items in short supply. But here in Westchester County, I have seen nothing but cooperation, kindness and generosity.

As three of us approach an automatic door at Stop & Shop, we all stop and urge the others to enter first. At the Pleasantville Farmers Market, masked shoppers wait quietly and patiently on the long line to enter, standing on their respective spray-painted bar. At Hope’s Door, the calls from people wanting to help are numerous and so heartwarming.

Hope’s Door is a domestic violence agency serving all of Westchester, whose mission is to end domestic violence and empower its victims to achieve safety, independence and healing from the trauma of abuse.

Hope’s Door continues to serve its clients every day of the coronavirus pandemic. Our hotline and shelter are both staffed and operating 24/7, although all staff are taking responsible actions to maintain social distancing while working, protect themselves and our residents by wearing masks and gloves, and continually wash hands and disinfect surfaces in every room of the shelter. Our Youth Prevention team are creatively engaging youth on social media, continuing efforts to help young people establish relationships based on equality and respect. Our counselors, though working remotely, are in contact with existing clients, and immediately respond to hotline calls from people in distress. Our Legal Center has been securing orders of protection and other legal remedies through Virtual Court.

Our administrators have worked diligently to ensure that no furloughs or layoffs of Hope’s Door staff have occurred; they remain committed to the health and wellness of both staff and clients. We are grateful to our funders who have worked with us to maintain revenue streams, and to donors who continue to send checks to keep our programs operating. Though we had to cancel our Spring Gala, our sponsors donated their sponsorship payments to us. We are so grateful to all of them.

The Westchester Community Foundation, a division of the New York Community Foundation, awarded us a $3,000 grant to conduct periodic deep cleanings of the shelter. Westchester Community Foundation’s mission is to connect generous people to the causes they care about and invest in transformative ideas and organizations to improve lives and strengthen our community. You can visit their website www.wcf-ny.oeg to learn more about the work they do.

Marjorie Hsu of Sleepy Hollow, NY, on behalf of an investment group she’s a member of called Plum Alley, donated masks and gloves to the shelter. Plum Alley is comprised of individuals who were born, lived, and/or worked in China and the US, and thus have the relationships to interface with the PPE factories and manage the logistics to source and ship PPE equipment during the pandemic. They formed a COVID task force, which you can learn more about here:  https://covid19taskforce.plumalley.org 

One of our donors arranged a pizza party for the residents of the shelter last month, and this month will be bringing Mother’s Day gifts to all the mothers at the shelter.  A young woman new to Westchester, asked her friends to celebrate her birthday together but separately, by donating to Hope’s Door through her Facebook page.  Even the smallest efforts can yield benefit to Hope’s Door; many people start their Amazon shopping through Amazon Smiles, and select Hope’s Door as their charity of choice.

Jonathan Langsam and Rosie Hernandez of Falafel Taco

In Pleasantville, local entrepreneur Jonathan Langsam, owner of Falafel Taco on Wheeler Street, received $1,000 from Pleasantville Rotary and ran a GoFundMe campaign called Feeding Pleasantville Families, that raised another $2,800.  He and his wife and business partner, Rosie Hernandez, are using the funds to keep Pleasantville restaurants open during the pandemic.  Each day, one or more restaurants cook meals for various charities.  Jonathan found us in Hawthorne, and so far, he and his friends have provided meals to Hope’s Door shelter residents and staff five times during the month of April.  Falafel Taco offered their unique Mexican/Israeli twists on Falafel and Chicken Fajita meals, and the second time they cooked for us, they added a fish dish to the mix; Pleasantville Pizza made Penne a la Vodka, salad, and home made bread; Frank and Joe’s Deli also made penne a la vodka as well as spaghetti with marinara sauce;  Pleasantville Bakery put together pastries and croissants for Easter Sunday.  We’re told Flour and Sun Bakery want to make cupcakes for the shelter folks, too.

We are so grateful to everyone who wants to help Hope’s Door and our clients.  These gestures remind us, and more importantly our clients, that people do care, and that when our shelter residents are able to return to the world, they will find kind and generous people in it.  If you would like to donate to Hope’s Door, reach out to Barbara Turk, Director of Development & Community Relations, at bturk@hopesdoorny.org.

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About the Author: Barbara Turk