To help those most vulnerable to COVID-19, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced the creation of Project Resilience on March 17. This effort includes: a community fund, a partnership with the United Way; an online portal for anyone in need to ask for help; a food distribution network; and a partnership program for businesses and community groups to provide food and other critical services.
Residents in need can apply online to receive meals and other support from participating local restaurants and community groups. Meals are delivered to local distribution centers, with home delivery to those who need it organized from there. Ulster County Area Transit has been partially repurposed to work with municipalities and community organizations to deliver meals to residents in need. Ryan secured over $2 million in funding in under 24 hours in addition to announcing partnerships with municipal governments, local businesses and not-for-profit organizations. He wants to obtain $5 million in funding, which would pay for one week of groceries for everyone in Ulster County.
“I think we’re showing really our state and our whole country what it looks like when a community comes together and works to help those among the community in need,” Ryan said. “This is a model I hope others can learn from as well.”
Meal delivery has increased exponentially in Gardiner and Shawangunk. Gardiner Town Supervisor Marybeth Majestic noted that 31 meals were delivered to Gardiner on the first day Tuesday, March 24. Ninety- eight meals were delivered to Gardiner this Tuesday. In Shawangunk, fourteen meals were delivered on the first day and 46 were delivered on Saturday. Food is brought to Gardiner Town Hall where it is distributed to Gardiner, Shawangunk and Plattekill.
“It’s safe to say that the total number of meals for all three of our towns has doubled,” Majestic said.
Majestic is aided by several volunteers. She and Deputy Town Clerk Julia Hansen package the food. Gardiner residents Patrick Murphy, Lenny Zapka, Jon Benner and Gardiner Town Board member David Dukler deliver meals to each home. Majestic also has a list of volunteers on standby in case their services are needed.
So far, delivery to homes in Gardiner, Shawangunk and Plattekill has gone smoothly. Drivers limit contact with people by knocking on their doors and leaving their food for them. Majestic has provided each volunteer with gloves to be more sanitary.
“I’d say maybe one of the challenges will be keeping up with the increasing numbers,” Majestic said.
Since the first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ulster County on March 11, the total number has skyrocketed to 382 cases as of Monday evening. Plattekill (49) and Shawangunk (43) have the first and second most confirmed cases in the county. As of Monday evening, Gardiner has only three confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Another problem is that Majestic does not have masks to offer her volunteers.
In addition to providing meals, Project Resistance has also partnered with Family of Woodstock Inc. to identify open daycare slots in Ulster County and match them with families who need emergency child care. There are limited child care vacancies in the 0-5 year-old programs. Parents needing care should contact the Child Care Resource and Referral offices at 845-331-7080 available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. through 5 p.m.
To donate, request meal delivery service, assistance, or to sign up as a participating business or service provider visit: https://ulstercountyny.gov/coronavirus. When on the site go to the Project Resilience tab and click “About Project Resilience.”
Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan encouraged people to donate money to Project Resilience.
“I know there are a lot of people struggling right now but there are also many who do have some ability to help and to those who can help financially contributing to that fund through the United Way, that community fund, will really go a long way,” Ryan said. “We’ll be leveraging work that’s already happening. I’ve seen across social media and reports that we’re hearing community groups from New Paltz to Shandaken to Saugerties all stepping up. VFWs, boy and girl scout troops, other community groups doing this work. So we want to supplement and scale that and really give a place where anyone in the county in need can raise their hand online and just say ‘Hey I need help, here’s what I need.’”
On April 2, Ryan announced that since Project Resilience began 1,854 individuals/households have requested assistance, 13,715 meals have been delivered, 16 local teams have been established to distribute meals serving 22 municipalities and 22 restaurants had signed up. As of Monday evening nearly $100,000 has been raised through grassroots donors in the community through GoFundMe.