Local Leadership, Community Partnerships Pivotal in Overcoming the Impact of Covid-19

Column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Our communities have shown remarkable resilience in recent months. As the impact of COVID-19 has strained nearly every aspect of daily life, friends, neighbors and even strangers banded together and stepped up to ease the repercussions of the pandemic. Here in the 120th Assembly District, I have seen incredible strength, courage and generosity.

No one could have predicted what was to come in these last few months, but despite having almost no time to prepare, New Yorkers found a way to fight through the brunt of the crisis. As we continue to move forward with phased re-opening of the state, we should recognize local businesses, charitable organizations and community leaders for the efforts it took to get us to this stage.

Among the countless groups and individuals who pitched in, Cortini’s repair shop helped make and donate 1,500 masks to frontline workers. HealthWay gave every high school senior in Pulaski a $250 “gift of hope.” A coalition including Oswego Health and the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce launched an online campaign supporting healthcare workers. Their “SOH 2020” initiative was a tremendous help to those working in the medical profession, and the masks and other acts of kindness generated from their efforts went a long way toward weathering the peak of the crisis.

In early May, I partnered with Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow to host a blood drive benefiting the American Red Cross. We have also worked with the American Dairy Association Northeast to help mitigate supply chain issues by hosting local milk drives. The massive turnout and participation at these events were clear evidence our community members were ready and eager to help.

When parades and traditional ceremonies were cancelled, on Memorial Day weekend, local veterans still managed to facilitate smaller ceremonies at different cemeteries around the area to honor those who died fighting for our country. Without crowds, ceremonies were smaller and shorter, but their intentions were clear and taps and military salutes were provided for the veterans. A special thank you to the American Legion’s 5th District Commander Lawrence Behling, a local veteran and Phoenix, NY resident, who helped ensure that our fallen soldiers were honored this year.

The list goes on and on; from Blessings in a Backpack, to Catholic Charities, to Lock 1, which repurposed its distilling operations to make hand sanitizer, to the countless other non-profit organizations that have offered their time and services. Overcoming this was truly a team effort, a true display of compassion for one’s neighbors.

However, for as far as we have come and for all the good works we have seen in recent months, there is still more to do. We must continue to be vigilant. Together, we will come out of this better and stronger than ever.