BARRE – Jodi Antsey and her family made this sign thanking people in different careers for continuing to go to work during the coronavirus pandemic.
The family displayed the sign in front of their house on Johnny Cake Lane in Barre on Wednesday.
Antsey said people are invited to drop thank you notes in a tote box by the sign for people in the different occupations. When the pandemic is over, she will deliver the cards.
Antsey is a school bus driver who currently isn’t driving a bus because schools have been closed.
She asked her friends on Facebook to list some of the occupations where people still need to show up for work. So far, the sign includes firefighters, police officers, farmers, Postal Service employees and mail carriers, outpatient and inpatient treatment facilities, school bus drivers delivery food and schoolwork for students, grocery store workers, doctors and nurses, mechanics, retail store workers, garbage pick-up workers, nurses, military, dispatchers, Fed Ex and UPS delivery, electric/water/gas employees, daycare staff, state troopers, teachers and school employees, pharmacists and staff, hospital workers, corrections officers, social workers, drug and alcohol treatment staff, EMS staff, home health aides, assisted living caregivers, CNAs, gas station employees, warehouse employees, medical supply companies and restaurants providing takeout and delivery. (She also just added news reporters.)
Press Release, Save Ontario Shores
The Renewable Energy Siting Law passed today has some minor changes from the governor’s original budget amendment. Community groups were added back in as possible parties. There are additional opportunities to request a hearing.
But the process does not give local concerns, local health impacts, and local environmental issues a chance against the looming “state energy goals” and the out of state industrial renewable developers who stand to profit from these projects.
New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) says the upstate grid is self-contained and cannot transport renewable energy downstate. NYISO also says currently planned transmission upgrades will be insufficient to transport renewable energy downstate. Since upstate electricity is 90% emission-free, New York cannot advance its renewable energy goals by adding more capacity upstate.
There are many ways to address climate change. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has chosen an upstate industrial path that will be expensive and ineffective, and he will do so with expanded authority to overrule local laws.
Local input has always been deemed necessary to properly review large-scale complex industrial projects before approvals are granted to build these projects. Local input is necessary to gauge impacts on a community’s health, environment, economy and safety. Historically these responsibilities have rested with local governments through their local laws. Under prior energy siting laws, the State has been reticent to waive them.
Now the Governor has tightened the vise to crank out many sprawling 400-million-dollar industrial projects in a year. This will be accomplished by removing the “pre-application” phase that offered the local community an opportunity to impact the application before it was filed – and by waiving local laws.
With the decision to waive local laws comes the erosion of protections for citizens and communities from harmful projects. This obligation cannot be subordinate to a political agenda or to private developers.
Unfortunately, this legislation seems to have been driven by such an agenda and the private interests behind it. Usurping home rule harms the health, safety, environment and economy of communities.
About Save Ontario Shores
Save Ontario Shores, Inc. (SOS), was formed in December 2014. We are a self-funded group of local residents and property owners from diverse backgrounds who share a deep appreciation for the unspoiled beauty of Somerset and Yates and the shoreline of Lake Ontario. We endeavor to protect the rural environment, wildlife, economy and its citizens by opposing the Lighthouse Wind encroachment of up to 70 mammoth industrial wind turbines that will soar more than 600 feet into the sky.
Press Release, Country Lane Veterinary Services
BARRE – What do Seinfeld, Family Matters, Polly Pockets, the GameBoy, The Little Mermaid and Country Lane Veterinary Services all have in common? They all got their start in the year 1990!
That year on April 1 Dr. George and Iva McKenna opened the doors of Country Lane Veterinary Services. God has blessed the business with successes and challenges, going from a two-person operation to currently having eight employees (and continuing to grow).
George and Iva are excited to be celebrating their 30th year in business, and are looking towards a bright future. Dr. George McKenna shared, “30 years! Feels like 5; and no, I am not going to retire.”
Iva says, “We have been so blessed to get to know the clients, and their wonderful pets. It is so much more than just a business.”
Country Lane Veterinary Services would like to say a sincere thank you to all of their clients, staff (current and past) and the wonderful community that provides the chance to grow and serve!
The past 30 years have gone by quickly, and the Country Lane team really enjoys the opportunity to take care of your pets. Everyday the team at Country Lane strives to live out our motto of “Healthy pets live happier longer lives which makes the pets’ lives, the owners’ lives, and our lives better!”
To celebrate their 30 years of business, Dr. George and Iva McKenna would like to invite you to a celebration on June 20 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. with delicious food, ice cream, raffles and more. Kids will be able to perform teddy bear surgeries, a great photo opportunity.
In addition, the animal hospital will be open for tours, and our team will happily answer questions about our equipment, and our practice, Dr. McKenna and Iva may share a few stories. Should this event have to be cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, we will look forward to still celebrating in an online/social media format.
Press Release, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office
LOCKPORT – It is with great pleasure that Acting Sheriff Michael J. Filicetti welcomes the newest member of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Canine team, K-9 Atom.
K-9 Atom is an 11-month-old Belgian Malinois which will be handled by Deputy Jeffrey Walters. Deputy Walters and K-9 Atom have begun their extensive training program to complete their New York State certifications in patrol and explosive detection.
“Our canine teams are vital assets to the work performed at the Niagara
County Sheriff’s Office,” said Acting Sheriff Michael J. Filicetti. “Our canines and their handlers are highly trained and are very active within our community.”
The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Canine Division was established in March 1998.
Press Release, Western New York Energy, Orleans Economic Development Agency
MEDINA – Western New York Energy in Medina has adapted its operations to provide distilleries, technology companies, and global personal care corporations in the United States and Canada with ethanol to produce hand sanitizer in response to the coronavirus global pandemic.
“In conjunction with New York’s corn growers, Western New York Energy is committed to assisting distillers and companies of any size to manufacture hand sanitizer in the fight against this devastating pandemic,” said Tim Winters, WNYE President and CEO. “We could not do this without the support of the farmers, our partners for the past 13 years, who are the bedrock of this region.”
The WNY Energy facility is locally owned and can produce up to 150,000 gallons per day of tech-grade ethanol for industrial purposes such as sanitizer production. Winters and 50 employees are supplying some of the country’s largest technology companies and global personal care corporations that have repurposed operations to address the nationwide need for sanitizer, along with distillers across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Maine that have halted alcohol production to produce sanitizer for the urgent needs of doctors, hospitals, and at-risk communities.
Distilleries that WNY Energy first supplied at the forefront of the COVID response include: Black Button Distilling and Iron Smoke Distillery in Rochester, Uncle Jumbo’s Vodka in Buffalo, Prohibition Distillery in Roscoe, NY, Clayton Distillery in Clayton, NY and Maine Craft Distillery in Portland, ME. Many of those companies first bottled the sanitizer in 24-ounce glass liquor bottles they had in stock, but are now working to make sanitizer available in larger gallon containers, pails or drums.
“Western New York Energy is a respected industry partner and a critically important, reliable market for our corn growers,” said Colleen Klein, executive director of NY Corn and Soybean Growers Association. “In usual circumstances, our crop is used in the Medina facility to make clean, renewable fuel but these are not usual circumstances. We are facing unprecedented times as a state and nation. We applaud WNYE’s ability and willingness to pivot their business to provide much needed sanitation resources while maintaining the market for our growers during these uncertain times.”
More distilleries across the Northeast, Midwest, and the larger corporations WNYE has begun to supply are ramping up the production of 75-80% alcohol-based hand sanitizers for retail and wholesale.
“As we move forward, you can rest assured that New York farmers are going to show up to do their job – whatever it takes,” Klein said. “We’re happy to have a friend in Western New York Energy who shares this mentality. Whether you’re farm tough, New York City tough, or anywhere in between – we’re all stronger together.”
Western New York Energy opened in 2007 after construction of a $90 million facility in Medina. WNYE is proud to be partnering with New York’s farmers to produce domestic, clean, renewable energy.
On an annual basis WNYE processes approximately 20 million bushels of corn into more than 60 million gallons of fuel-grade biofuel blended with gasoline; 140,000 tons of high-quality dairy distillers grain for the dairy and livestock industries; 1.8 million gallons of feed-grade corn oil sold as a feed product or for further processing into biodiesel; and 100,000 tons of food-grade carbon dioxide.
“Western New York Energy has become one of the most important industries in Orleans County and New York State,” said Jim Whipple, CEO of the Orleans Economic Development Agency. “The economics tied to WNYE not only supports local farmers, but the operation is the largest taxpayer in Orleans County. It is important that products made in New York’s farm communities be given purchasing priority in times like this, as we are often more equipped and adaptive to support the needs of heavily populated urban areas that could be struggling.”
Congressional candidate urges challengers to oppose potential pardon for Collins
Press Release, Nate McMurray for Congress
HAMBURG – Today, NY-27th congressional candidate Nate McMurray voiced his opposition to a delayed sentence and potential pardon for former GOP Representative Chris Collins.
Yesterday, a federal judge granted a two-month delay for the prison surrender of Collins, who in January was sentenced to serve 26 months in prison for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI. Collins’ lawyers argued that he has a high risk of contracting the coronavirus.
“No average citizen would be allowed this preferential treatment over and over again,” McMurray said. “Collins’ high-priced lawyers bought him another two months of freedom. Chris Collins broke the law numerous times and disgraced Western New York and he has left this region without a leader during an unprecedented crisis.”
“Collins’ legal team is attempting to seek a pardon for after the June 23rd election,” McMurray said. “My opponents Chris Jacobs, Stefan Mychajliw and Beth Parlato must stand up and say this is wrong. All three of them were either silent when Chris Collins ran or openly campaigned for him. Such behavior has to end now.”
Orleans remains at 6 cases, with 122 testing negative for coronavirus
The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments are reporting one new case of Covid-19 in Genesee County, for 17 total. Orleans County has no new confirmed cases and remains at 6.
The person with the new confirmed case in Genesee is under age 65 and resides in the central part of the county, the Health Department reported.
The new positive case was not under precautionary or mandatory quarantine when they became symptomatic.
The Health Department is doing contact tracing for all new cases where known contacts are placed under mandatory quarantine and will be swabbed if symptoms become present
“Limited information is provided to the public in compliance with HIPAA regulations and out of the respect of those impacted by this virus.” The Health Department said in a news release.
The following is part of a press release from the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments
• In Orleans, there have been 6 confirmed cases of Covid-19, 122 negative tests, 6 people in mandatory isolation after testing positive, 9 in mandatory quarantine and 11 in precautionary quarantine.
• In Genesee County, 17 have tested positive and 197 tests have come back negative. There are also 15 people currently in mandatory isolation, 37 in mandatory quarantine, 11 in precautionary quarantine, 1 death and person who has recovered.
New York State cases/Restrictions/Guidelines
• Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today at his press conference there are now a total of 92,381 confirmed positive cases of Covid-19 in NYS.
• 13,383 (14 percent) of Covid-19 patients are hospitalized.
• The Governor has extended NY PAUSE program (non-essential workers down to 0%) until April 15; this will be evaluated every two weeks
• New Yorkers without health insurance can apply through NY State of Health within 60 days of losing coverage (click here for more information.
• The President and CDC have ordered a travel advisory (NY, NJ & CT) – this is not a lock down, these federal actions support state actions to date. It is OK to be outside in your yard, ride bikes, visit a state park for walks, to take rides in your vehicle. However congregating and taking the family shopping does not comply with social distancing (keeping 6 feet from others, limiting time out in public)
• Social distancing must be practiced in order to stop the spread of Covid-19. This means canceling events such as parties, celebrations, and neighborhood gatherings where people congregate together. This also means that children and adults should not play contact sports. These are temporary requests that will help stop the spread of the virus so that we can resume normal activities. If you must go to the store, always maintain at least 6 feet of space between you and other people.
• Please remain home if ill, even if a person has a negative Covid-19 result it is important to continue to limit physical contact. Flu and COVID-19 are still transmittable and people should continue to remain home and limiting contact with others. If you work with a vulnerable population, self-monitor prior to going to work, if you become sick while at work, contact your supervisor immediately and leave the premises to decrease the risk of contact with others. When not working, follow social distancing and limit time in public.
• If you feel you may have Covid-19, call your primary care provider or healthcare facility ahead of time. Do not go directly there. Call ahead to get guidance. Swabbing will be based on those who are in higher risk categories – elderly and immune compromised and those with underlying health issues.
• Swab sample results are coming back slower than expected. With more testing, we expect this will continue. Whenever anyone is swabbed for potential Covid-19, self-isolation is advised until the test result is received.
The Office for the Aging in both counties continues to operate. They are still providing meals to their residents and are working with their vendors to provide the potential increase in meals to the residents they serve.
For Genesee County: NYConnects / Office for the Aging call 585-343-1611 Monday-Friday 8:30-5:00.
For Orleans County: Older Adults in Orleans County can contact Arc of Genesee Orleans Nutrition Program at 589-5424 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Office for the Aging staff members are coordinating with Meals on Wheels to ensure meal delivery to seniors in need. The staff are keeping their spirits up to stay safe and still deliver smiles with nutrition. There is a suggested donation for meal delivery, but do not let cost get in the way of asking for this help. If you have concerns about not having enough food call NY Connects/Office for the Aging at 589-3191.
Anxiety, Depression, Fear
• If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, fear about this outbreak call the Care + Crisis Helpline at 585-283-5200, text 741741 or call the NYS COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 884-863-9314, they have trained listeners available 24/7 to help you through this.
Tenants wait for OK to move in at Holley Gardens
Photos by Tom Rivers
HOLLEY – A worker cleans in the stairwell at the former Holley High School, which is being transformed into 41 senior apartments and the offices for the Village of Holley.
Wednesday was supposed to be the move-in day for several of the tenants but it has been pushed back due to concerns about the coronavirus.
Most of the 41 apartments are complete with additional work needed on the dozen apartments in the basement. The first and second floors are done.
Home Leasing in Rochester, which spearheaded the $17 million project, also is working on the space in the former auditorium, which will become the village offices. The site will be known as the Holley Gardens.
The company is asking state officials for a date for the tenants to start moving in.
This is the hallway on the second floor where the apartments are ready for residential living. Home Leasing started construction in November 2018 on the project. The school was built in 1931 and closed after 1975. It was vacant for more than two decades. It was last used by a manufacturing company, Liftec, which went bankrupt.
The lockers serve a decorative function. Home Leasing sandblasted the locker faces, and gave them new coats of paint. New handrails stretch throughout the hallways.
Carrie Valone is the site manager for Home Leasing. She said there has been a strong response from the community for the apartments. Only four of the 41 are available.
Tours of the building in February were a big seller of the apartments, Valone said.
“People are ecstatic,” she said. “It holds strong memories for the people around here. Plus, it’s brand new and the rents are affordable.”
George DeRue (right), Home Leasing’s vice president of historical preservation, served as the construction manager for the project. He has 30 years with Home Leasing. He shows an apartment to Ron Vendetti, Holley’s code enforcement officer and grants manager. Vendetti graduated from Holley in 1971. He said Home Leasing has done an amazing job with the construction project.
The apartments include one studio, 35 one-bedrooms, and five two-bedroom apartments, most of which are 700 to 800 square feet. This apartment includes an original hardwood floor from the school. The floor was salvageable and in good enough shape for about eight of the apartments.
Most of the apartments have a chalkboard from the old school. George DeRue said the tenants will find the chalkboard useful for writing down appointments and other reminders.
The trophy case used to be at right in the hallway. Now the space can function as a bench.
This view looks out towards Route 31 and the Community Free Library. Home Leasing put in new glass for the windows while refurbishing the window frames.
The rooms all have new doors but Home Leasing was able to keep the transom windows above the doors.
The original wooden railings in the stairwells were saved and are being put back into place. They were sanded and revarnished.
Home Leasing put a small addition on the building (lower left) that serves as an entryway where there are new mailboxes, a phone system and access to an elevator.
To see how the building looked in October, during another tour, click here.
For more information on the project and to contact Home Leasing, click here.
All 62 counties now have a confirmed case of coronavirus
Gov. Andrew Cuomo updated the state on the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, now at 92,381 after 8,669 new positives.
The governor, speaking at a news conference in Albany, also said the state is at 2,373 deaths from Covid-19, up from 1,941 on Wednesday.
The governor said every county, all 62, now has a coronavirus case. The less populated counties shouldn’t feel like they are less likely to be infected with the virus, Cuomo said.
“It is false comfort to say we are a rural community, we don’t have the density of New York City,” he said.
He shared a model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is estimating 93,000 will die in the United States from Covid-19 with 16,000 deaths in the state.
The governor touted a partnership among hospital systems across the state to respond to the public health crisis. The healthcare systems have expanded beds and are ready to share staff and supplies in the areas of greatest need.
The hospitals will do a nightly survey of their supplies on hand, including surgical masks, face shields, goggles, N-95 respirators and other personal protective equipment.
Orleans Hub will have more information this afternoon on any changes in the local cases. The Health Department has been giving an update at 4 p.m. each day on the cases in Orleans and Genesee counties.
Press Release, Genesee Community College
BATAVIA – Today’s competitive workforce is in a constant state of evolution even before the COVID-19 Pandemic. The introduction of new systems, products and services, and the drive for improved efficiencies in an ever-challenging marketplace require employers to evaluate, update and realign teams to best meet the changing demands of their industry.
To help employees build their skill sets and keep up, Genesee Community College is excited to open enrollment for its first Micro-Credential programs available this fall semester, which begins August 31, 2020.
Micro-Credentials are academic programs, similar to degree programs that have been dramatically trimmed to just 9 to 15 credit hours that include only core courses relevant to specific skills, training and knowledge in that discipline. Designed to be earned in as quickly as one semester, a micro-credential is the ideal way to build a resume to take advantage of career advancement opportunities, get started in a new industry, or even to explore a career path without the commitment of an expensive or time-consuming four-year degree.
GCC’s Micro-Credential programs offer students a high-quality education in a reduced time frame and limited cost – only course tuition plus course-related books and fees. The first micro-credential programs GCC has made available for enrollment for the Fall 2020 semester are:
• The Human Resource Management Micro-Credential focuses on human resources including legal compliance, diversity and inclusion, succession planning, recruitment, retention and much more!
• The NYS Coaching Certification Micro-Credential provides a solid first step toward becoming a coach, athletic instructor or trainer. It also satisfies the requirement for anyone seeking a coaching career in any public school in New York State.
“Since its inception, Genesee Community College has prioritized the needs of the communities we serve by helping to ensure our graduates and their employers benefit from the most current and relevant technologies available,” said Dr. Kathleen (Kate) M. Schiefen, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “Micro-credentials allow us to deliver on both of those priorities in a very big way. For many people, from incumbent workers to those facing layoff, a micro-credential in one or two semesters with incredibly reasonable tuition and 100 percent online access can change a career trajectory and help secure a whole family.”
The online learning component of the new micro-credentials is another way the programs enable student success, particularly for those who may be juggling the responsibility of family, healthcare needs, transportation issues or jobs. Upon completion of a micro-credential program, students receive an official college transcript that documents their earned academic credit as well as a specific digital badge that highlights those core skills and competencies that employers search for on resumes, LinkedIn pages and other social media channels. The digital badge, representing the earned micro-credential, sets a GCC candidate apart from the rest.
Additionally, earned micro-credentials generate SUNY academic college credits which are transferable and can be applied toward additional academic degrees in the future including:
• GCC associate degrees and certificates
• SUNY to SUNY Pathways and Seamless Transfer programs
• GCC’s many (150+) transfer agreements with baccalaureate institutions
• Most colleges and universities nationwide
Individuals who are interested in earning a micro-credential in Human Resource Management should contact Dr. Lina LaMattina, GCC assistant professor and director of Business and Commerce, LMLattina@genesee.edu, 585-343-0055 Ext. 6319.
To discuss the NYS Coaching Certification Micro-Credential, contact Becky Dziekan, GCC professor and director of Health and Physical Education, 585-343-0055 x 6424 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
“GCC is excited about developing additional micro-credential programs in the near future,” Dr. Schiefen added. “While these are ideal for working adults looking to advance in their careers by attaining the skills necessary to keep up with their changing job duties, micro-credentials are also perfect for young adults to help them qualify for entry level positions or to explore brand new career paths.”
Press Release, Orleans Community Health
ALBION – Starting Friday, April 3, radiology services will be available at the Albion Healthcare Center from 8 a.m. to noon by appointment only.
The Albion Healthcare Center is located at 14789 Route 31, the corner of Butts Road.
Call 585-589-2273 for an appointment.
Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to President Trump demanding an explanation for why New York State, which has substantially more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other state, has not received its full allotment of PPE and medical supplies, while other states, such as Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Florida, have reportedly had their requests filled completely.
Gillibrand called on Trump to deliver clarity and transparency on how the Federal Emergency Management Agency is allocating resources and provide information on where medical supplies have been allocated thus far.
“President Trump and FEMA must answer questions about their process for allocating resources, their methodology, and why states with significantly fewer cases of COVID-19 than New York are having their requests filled completely, while our hospitals are still waiting on these critical supplies,” said Gillibrand. “The notion that certain states have greater access to the federal stockpile of medical supplies than others is deeply disturbing. New York is facing more cases of COVID-19 than any other state, and it’s time the federal government’s delivered the resources to the crisis we’re facing.”
As The Washington Post noted in its original story, certain states like Kentucky, Oklahoma and Florida, have received 100 percent, and in some cases more, of the medical supplies that they requested, while other states like New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and others, are still short. The Post noted, for example, that “Oklahoma received 120,000 face shields despite requesting only 16,000, according to the state’s health department. North Carolina, by contrast, requested 500,000 medical coveralls and received 306, state records show.”
Multiple New York hospitals have reported that their orders for PPE have been diverted to other recipients or that they cannot successfully procure medical equipment and PPE because they are being outbid by the federal government. This makes FEMA’s allocations to states all the more important. Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that New York needs 40,000 ventilators for our hospitals, but FEMA has only provided 4,400 from the Strategic National Stockpile.
Photos from Rob Dennis, director of transportation for Medina school district
MEDINA – The school district is finishing its third week of “Operation Food Drop” and has been distributing 1,000 to 1,200 meals daily to Medina families.
District administrators have teamed with cafeteria workers and the transportation department to organize the program and get the breakfasts and lunches to children in the community.
“We will continue throughout Easter break and into the foreseeable future,” said Rob Dennis, the transportation director for the school district. “I am very proud of how well our school leadership has come together in these difficult times for us all. Medina Strong, Mustang Strong.”
Dennis praised the cafeteria staff led by Maria Haegerty.
“Our transportation department has worked seamlessly with Maria, and her department to get food to the students and families of the district,” Dennis said.
The district has been delivering the meals between 11 a.m. and noon each day at the following locations:
• Pine Street Park: corner of Pine Street and Park Avenue
• MAAC Thrift Depot: corner of Starr Street and Orient Street
• Orleans County YMCA Parking Lot: 306 Pearl Street
• Former Towne School Parking Lot: 181 Bates Road
• Shelby Fire Department Parking Lot: 4695 S. Gravel Road
• Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company parking lot on Knowlesville Road
• Oak Orchard Elementary Bus Loop
Dan Doctor, director of community outreach for Medina Central School, also has been taking food to homeless families in the district.
For more information about the food program, click here.
Covid-19 restrictions mean no hugs, no social gatherings to comfort grieving families
(Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series – Pandemic Perspectives – written by community members on how the coronavirus is effecting businesses and life. We welcome more submissions. Send them to email@example.com.)
By Josh Mitchell
The people of the world are going through unimaginable hardships in many different ways with the pandemic we are facing. When the pandemic made its way to the United States, I really did not think that it would have the effect on us like it has, especially in the funeral profession.
I am glad that I purchased a bunch of hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and cleaning products 6 months ago when I had the chance.
Having a funeral, memorial, or celebration of life service is something that goes hand in hand when losing a loved one. However, with the recent pandemic there are many changes being put in place.
For example, families are now only allowed to view their loved one privately, or have services with as few immediate family members as possible while maintaining social distancing (as per the NYS on PAUSE Executive Order signed by Governor Cuomo).
Cemeteries are also following these guidelines, and in some cases, city cemeteries are only allowing the funeral director to accompany the body to its place of rest. Once everything is completed, the family will then be able to visit the grave. Social distancing on a normal day is difficult, but it’s even more so when you lose someone who you love and want to embrace your friends and family during a difficult time.
Another aspect of this pandemic is that many people are not allowed to visit their loved ones at the hospital or nursing home. My grandmother is currently in the hospital and one of the most difficult things, besides being in the hospital, is her not being able to see or hug her family.
We as human beings need to touch and be there for our family during a difficult time and especially at a time of loss. Unfortunately, this pandemic is forcing people to communicate in different ways that many people have not ever experienced, but fortunately we have technology to make up for the inability to have in person and up close interaction. This is the same reality in the funeral profession.
Technology is something that often times we take for granted and when it fails to work, we are lost. During this pandemic, we have relied on technology in countless ways to help us communicate with the world. Making funeral arrangements was always an in-person appointment, at the family’s home or at our funeral home. There are still families that wish to come to our facilities to make arrangements and there are others that are open to meeting over the phone, through Facetime, email, or making arrangements using Zoom. It is so difficult to not greet a family with a hug or a handshake, but it is a reality of what we are facing.
Live streaming a service is another aspect of technology that has really worked great for a private family service where the family is OK with people viewing the service from their computer or phone at home. Creating a YouTube channel for Mitchell Family Funeral Homes was very easy and I already had the technology in the facility to live stream a service, much to my surprise. This is a service we will continue to offer long after the pandemic.
Additionally, condolences can be left on the obituary on our website for the family to cherish as the days, weeks and months go on. Video tributes can be posted on the obituary as well to give people a chance to look at old family photos and is another way that technology allows us to remember a loved one.
Having services when a loved one is lost is part of grieving their life and remembering the life that was lived in the same token. When the unfortunate circumstance of delaying services arises, it is essentially delaying a part of that grief as well. A service at a later date could cause someone to go through losing their loved one all over again.
‘We are here to offer unique and meaningful ways to help celebrate the life of a loved one and we are needed now more than ever to guide the families we serve through that process.’
Our duty as funeral directors is to help each family through one of the most difficult times that they may ever experience in their life. To be there to guide them through the process so that their loved one’s life is remembered forever. We are here to offer unique and meaningful ways to help celebrate the life of a loved one and we are needed now more than ever to guide the families we serve through that process.
Losing a loved one is hard enough, let alone when you are unable to be with them when they pass, or visit them and tell them how much you love them. As human beings, we need that touch with our loved ones. Celebrating a life that has passed isn’t something that can’t happen during a pandemic. There are ways to still have a meaningful service at the funeral home with the technology that most times is right at our finger tips.
Losing a loved one is difficult even when our community isn’t experiencing a pandemic, but as a funeral director, our purpose is to help make it as easy on your family as we can. Your loved one was unique and special in their own way, celebrate it.
(Josh Mitchell is a funeral director with Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Inc. & Mitchell Family Funeral Homes.)