Sam Goldsmith, who has a carpentry and woodworking business, began posting on his Long Island City building’s Facebook page after the coronavirus lockdown began last month — kicking off a grassroots movement of neighbors aiding neighbors in the 306-unit high-rise where he and his family live.
It became clear that some neighbors in the building would need help. Some of us put flyers under doors and people filled in what they require assistance with. That led to our adopt-a-neighbor program, in which younger tenants in the building regularly do laundry or pick up food or offer transportation for the older folks they “adopt.” We’re also checking in on them and providing companionship during a time when it’s easy to feel scared.
When COVID-19 turned into the real deal, we made the building’s Facebook page into a place where people could request, say, hand-sanitizer or alcohol swabs and maybe get some paper towels in return. Because of my business, I have a lot of masks that I gave to neighbors.
As the quarantine goes on, neighbors’ needs have become less expected. but we’re helping each other even more. My wife is an attorney working at home. Sitting at her desk was killing her, but you can’t order a standing-desk for delivery right now. She posted about it, and the woman upstairs had one to spare. Same when a guy needed an extra computer monitor. Right away, a neighbor came through.
Before our seder this month, I realized that we needed matzo meal and the market was sold out. So I posed and a neighbor had some for me. I made matzo balls and shared them with Mona, my adopt-a-neighbor.
I think it’s a throwback to when neighbors in New York really looked out for each other. I hope this stays on after the virus passes.
— As told to Michael Kaplan
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