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I have had so many thoughts in the last few days that it has been difficult getting them on paper to share with you. There were times when I was very disheartened by everything going on, and while I believe this is a very natural response, I certainly didn’t enjoy those feelings. My spirits have been lifted by you, the wonderful people of Irvington. Your generosity and care for friends, neighbors and complete strangers is nothing short of extraordinary.
My despair has been turned into feelings of extreme gratitude. Gratitude for the amazing staff and employees of the Village of Irvington who have meticulously and carefully planned the local response to every new development we faced. (A summary of the current response and how it may impact you is available on the Irvington website here: https://www.irvingtonny.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2108) Gratitude for our first responders who are always there for us. Gratitude for local clergy who are coming up with creative ways to tend to their flocks when their places of worship are closed, just as people are looking to strengthen their faith more than ever. Gratitude for a Recreation Department providing food, basics and emotional support to seniors and the less fortunate in our community. Gratitude for healthcare workers and delivery people and restaurateurs and plumbers and hardware store owners and other elected officials and people only buying the amount of toilet paper they need. Frankly, I do not think I have ever felt more gratitude for almost everyone than I do today.
For any of you who have attended a 9/11 commemoration ceremony where I have spoken, you know I always speak longingly for September 12th, 2001. On September 12th, we were not Republicans nor Democrats, not Yankee fans nor Met fans, differences of race, religion, sexual orientation and age were not important. We were all Americans. We were all New Yorkers. We knew we would overcome whatever we faced in the coming days and weeks. The last week has been September 12th again and again. Although we are apart physically, I have never felt more part of a community that I do today.
I have tried to fill my Facebook page with information about local restaurants and business and their often-unique way of responding to current restrictions. It is, of course, important to continue to support our local businesses. The Hudson Independent recently published a handy guide to local Rivertown businesses, so, for updated information on hours and menus, follow this link: https://thehudsonindependent.com/food-for-thought-in-hard-times/
Yesterday my wife, daughter and I donated blood at the New York Blood Bank Center in Elmsford. While they expressed great concern for a lack of blood supply in general, I am very happy to report that the center was full of people donating, just like September 12, 2001. If you are in good health and have ever considered donating blood, now might be a good time to follow though. The website for the Blood Center is: https://nybloodcenter.org/ I promise the process is relatively painless and you can be in and out in under an hour.
Getting outside and enjoying the early spring weather is good for the body, mind and soul. HOWEVER, when you go outside it is critical that you practice social distancing (six feet in between each other). I do not want to take draconian steps to close parks and trails as I think they are a crucial piece of our emotional well-being, but we need everyone to use common sense. Yes, you can walk side by side with someone from your household but if you walk three or four across on the paths in Scenic Hudson Park, it will be impossible to maintain a safe distance from others also enjoying a walk or jog. When on paths in any of our parks, we should also try to walk in a single direction to avoid unnecessary interactions – so lets all try to walk counter-clockwise.
While the School’s fields are closed, our decision to leave Village fields and the Memorial Park tennis courts open is also reliant on your commonsense and your ability to follow our instructions to take proper precautions. I should not have to say this, but no organized sporting events or practices are allowed or more simply: NO GROUP GATHERINGS ALTOGETHER. A good rule of thumb is “do these people live with me”? If not, keep six feet in between you. This applies to the young, the old, the healthy and the sick. Just because you are not at greatest risk to COVID-19 doesn’t mean you will not inadvertently transmit it to someone who is.
As I mentioned above, our Recreation Department has been working furiously at providing our seniors and others in need with food and the basics of life. If you would like to make a donation to help support this effort, please use this link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=Y883M8LJQ5RV6&source=url
We do not know how long we will be asked to stay home. We do know that it will be difficult emotionally and financially for all of us. However, we are not alone, help is available, and we will get through these dark days and be much more appreciative on the other side. America has faced much worse. Americans have always risen to the occasion and we will again this time, of this I have absolute certainty.
As always, please never hesitate to contact me about anything. Be safe, keep washing your hands and remember we are all in this together.
Brian C. Smith, Mayorbsmith@irvingtonny.gov