In these unprecedented times, one East End community is banding together in an exceptional way. Save Sag Harbor has added a volunteer board on their website that has been flooded with residents who are ready to lend a helping hand.
We caught up with Bob Weinstein, Save Sag Harbor Co-Director, to learn more.
Could you please discuss Save Sag Harbor’s mission?
BW: Save Sag Harbor is an all-volunteer, 501 (c) 4 dedicated to the preservation of our Village through educational outreach and advocacy. We started in 2007 as a community-based effort to keep the Village commercial district from becoming overrun by “Big-Box” retail chain stores. Our intention then and now is to protect our vibrant Main Street and the scale, authenticity and integrity of our Historic District, and the sense of community this engenders.
The organization launched a volunteer message board in response to the Coronavirus. What seems to be the greatest need?
BW: We are focusing on those who are quarantined, self-monitoring due to potential exposure, elderly, or have a pre-existing condition that increases their susceptibility to the virus, and need assistance with tasks such as obtaining groceries, supplies, or prescriptions, or caring for a pet. I’d say we are also addressing the need of the many people who desperately want to do their part to help others and maintain the fabric of our community. We’re a close-knit community, and the response has been incredible.
What areas will volunteers serve?
BW: We are focusing on Sag Harbor- most of the volunteers are from the Village, and a few from North Haven and Noyac.
How many people need assistance at the moment?
BW: We have no way of telling. There are a lot of elderly residents in the Village, but they have an indomitable spirit and don’t see themselves as elderly! Our biggest challenge is letting those who need help know we have a growing list of people offering help. Our newsletter, with a mailing list of 1,500 people has advertised this, it is listed on the Sag Harbor Village website, the Sag Harbor Partnership has sent out a link on their newsletter, we have taken a full page ad in the Sag Harbor Express and we are putting posters up at the stores and pharmacies in the Village.
Our site has a link to sign up to volunteer, as well as a way to email us if you need help. However, our intention really is for those that need help to go to the list and contact volunteers directly. You can go to savesagharbor.com or email us at [email protected]. For anyone reading this who knows of someone needing help, we would ask you to direct them to our site.
What efforts are being made to ensure the safety of volunteers?
BW: I presented this idea to my board, Save Sag Harbor after I saw an Instagram post of a note in an elevator in the city that had all the neighbors’ numbers listed in case anyone needed help. This seemed like a perfect initiative for our Village. Our elderly friends and neighbors are the most vulnerable to the virus, and need the most help getting through it. Social distancing is difficult in crowded grocery stores and pharmacies.
While we are not authorities we have provided the following links on our site:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov
New York State Department of Health: health.ny.gov
Sag Harbor Village Government: www.sagharborny.gov
We also send a thank-you letter with the following recommendations:
arriving and after leaving.
How does the volunteer board work – are people in need matched with volunteers or is it based on when volunteers signed up?
BW: Our goal is to provide a resource to those in need, but we do not have the bandwidth to match people up. Coverage like this article should help direct people to the Volunteer Community Board at savesagharbor.com. Someone needing help will have long list of people to choose from. Because we are a small and tight-knit community, we think many people needing help will recognize names on the list and feel no hesitation in calling. It’s heart warming to see how much everyone wants to help – I tear up a bit when I see the new emails every morning from new volunteers.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
BW: We are also asking people to donate to the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps – a link is on our site at savesagharbor.com.
Also, besides the safety and health issues, we are concerned about the health of our unique and independent Main Street. All our businesses are suffering. Many restaurants are delivering takeout. We also encourage people to purchase gift certificates to their favorite stores for redemption after the crisis has ended. And another thing everyone can do is to reach out to our elderly friends and neighbors. There are already many people who feel isolated except for an occasional visit from a neighbor. Now that we can’t do that, it’s even more important to pick up the phone to say hi and offer a helping hand, from 6 feet away.
For more information, visit savesagharbor.com.