It’s been approximately two months since our lives were changed forever by an invisible enemy. At the very beginning, the Town of Smithtown implemented a number of safety measures and actions to protect the health and safety of our residents, labor force and those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. We restricted public access to town buildings and grounds, reduced our workforce by more than half, and sanitized our facilities nightly. We’ve produced daily updates that are available online and on GTV regarding important changes in town policy, closures, Social Distancing and How to protect yourself from the virus. We continue to be in direct contact, participating in daily briefings with county, state and federal officials. But above all, we set out with one mission at the beginning, that has grown strength thanks to our unique community. That objective was simple; no one left behind.
The first thing we did was to set up a unique central communications matrix, consisting of local food banks, shelters, school districts, charitable organizations & non-profits, first responders, local chambers, volunteers, local church groups and food establishments and everyone in between. Our main objective was to ensure no one person went without the care, supplies or food they would need to shelter in place. However, this network became so much more. Every day of this worldwide pandemic, this group of residents and local business owners stepped up to help the most vulnerable and those in quarantine. In addition, our communications matrix became a fast outlet to disseminate information to the public.
We immediately took steps within the town to limit the possibility for exposure to the virus. Our Senior Citizens department began contacting every resident in the department database, calling emergency contacts if need be, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Smithtown’s most vulnerable. The Senior Citizens department and volunteer drivers began to coordinate a meal delivery program for homebound seniors who have no safe way to get out to the stores. Thanks to a donation from my old friend, Ray Castronovo we were able to deliver meals to an additional 190 senior citizens. Additionally, my fellow town officials all chipped in to send bags of essential supplies (non-perishable groceries, cleaning products, toilet paper etc) to our most vulnerable population.
We began working with LI Cares to orchestrate mobile food deliveries to residents who have no one else to care for them or those who recently became unemployed. We have been in direct contact with LI Cares CEO Mr. Paule Pachter on a regular basis to help the food bank with PPE supplies and donations.
Thanks to the generosity of local restaurants and charitable individuals, the town has been able to orchestrate delivering family style meal deliveries to local shelters. Additionally, we have witnessed a number of local restaurants, who are in turn struggling to keep the lights on, graciously feeding families who’ve lost their jobs, Essential Workers, Nursing Home Caregivers and other front line workers. The Smithtown Children’s Foundation has been working tirelessly with local establishments like Legends Grill in Kings Park to deliver between 50-200 meals a day to various Nursing Homes, Fire & EMS stations, quarantined or grief stricken families, local shelters and Hospital staff. I would like to send my personal thanks to La Familgia, Panico’s Market, Mannino’s Pizza, Legends Grill and Villa Sorrento. These businesses each gave away thousands of dollars worth of food to the community and continue to do so on a daily basis. They are struggling to make due… yet they continue to give.
Thanks to help from local volunteers, we have been able to provide personal protection equipment (PPE) to thousands of hospital and nursing home staff. Our first big PPE donation began thanks to two young professionals, Katelyn Savasta and Elaina Kilfoyle. Together with my fellow elected officials, we helped them to purchase and deliver 430 disposable gowns for the Nurses in the COVID-19 units at St Catherine’s Hospital. Many local organizations followed, donating face masks and shields to St Catherine’s medical professionals. Smithtown HS West student, Jensen Hurst recently donated 50 face shields, made using her 3d printer, which we delivered to food bank volunteers at LI Cares.
With the help of Celebrate St James and the Smithtown Historical Society, supplies were donated at a drop off location at Town Hall. Hand Sewn Masks were then made with love by a number of local seamstresses. Volunteers from the Smithtown Historical Society, St James residents, local college students, Stitched Together LI & Dimitrios Furs in St James all helped the town to deliver approximately 2500 hand sewn masks to St Catherine’s hospital and St Johnland Nursing Home. Dimitrios Lettas has kept his employees on the payroll, by turning the shop into a face mask operation. He has offered masks to those in need, local essential businesses and front line caregivers since this all began. The town has delivered donated fabric to his shop weekly so he can continue his good work. Smithtown Historical Society’s Priya Kapoor enlisted the help of seamstresses Carol Mazurek and Susan Anderson (Historical Society Volunteers) to make masks for children in daycare. These are the children of healthcare workers and first responders whose parents are out there fighting the virus daily
I would like to send my heartfelt gratitude to the many residents who have donated cleaning supplies and cotton fabric for face masks. Thank you to Celebrate St James for posting weekly updates to members regarding the different ways to help the community. Thank you to the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, and Wake Up Lake! for working diligently to help our small businesses with government funding options in addition to promoting those essential businesses that are open during the pandemic. Our local Chambers and Celebrate St James also helped us to produce a list of all local businesses operating under essential services guidelines, which is available to residents online. And to everyone who raised money or gave their own nest eggs to donate PPE for our front line professionals and volunteers… you are all heroes in our hearts and minds. Thank you for going above and beyond to serve your community in the darkest of times. We are going to come through this stronger than ever because of each and every one of you.
May you and yours remain healthy… And if you need assistance or someone you know might need a little help; please contact my office directly at 631-360-7600.
WE STAND WITH YOU… SIX FEET APART.
Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
For regular updates during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit SmithtownNY.gov, Facebook, Instagram or the Town Mobile App for free. Smithtown GTV is available on Cablevision at channel 18 or Verizon Fios on channel 27.