24 Mar Voices From Our Community: Making a Difference on the Frontlines
While most New Yorkers are in #stayhome mode, doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Robert Thompson and Steven Price are providing essential cleaning services as part of Ready, Willing & Able’s Community Improvement Project. Both men have been in the program since the summer of 2019 and are now on a crew contracted by the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District.
We interrupted their normally scheduled routine to hear what it’s like on the frontlines during these unprecedented times.
Steven: I work from 66th–82nd street. The Doe Fund has given us extra safety equipment and bleaching solutions. I wipe down all mailboxes, telephone kiosks, parking meters, door handles. I’m making sure they are sanitized while keeping myself safe. I pick up garbage because trash can make the virus spread. All the coffee shops and pizza places along my route are closed. There are like 90% less people out on the streets these days. But the few that are out here say “hi” and “thank you”…from a distance of course. They are very grateful. Some are surprised to see us, but they know we are a necessity. It feels good to be needed. I’d rather come out every day and put in my effort than stay at home.
Robert: To get somewhere in life you need to put in the footwork. Being out here on Columbus Avenue can be challenging, especially now. You deal with all kinds of people and you just have to stay professional and respectful. During these past few days, the hospitality has been out of this world. People say, “I appreciate the work you are doing even with this virus out here. You’re here no matter what—rain, sleet, shine, at all hours.” Some people even buy me coffee and congratulate me for cleaning up, wiping the garbage cans, cleaning the bus stops. It gives me the sense that I’m giving back to the community. It makes me feel appreciated. I don’t want to lose that feeling.
And New York does not want to lose the Men in Blue. Their service, positive attitude and dedication are needed now more than ever. Please show your appreciation for the work they are doing on the frontlines during this public health crisis by making a special donation to The Doe Fund. If you are out and see the Men in Blue, let them know you appreciate their service.