Through these unprecedented times, many Long island businesses have risen to the occasion to demonstrate their support. as part of a new initiative called “hia-li: business steps up,” we will be showcasing the things members are doing to help their fellow businesses, to support public health, or help the community at large.
Pal-O-Mine Offers Wellness Program for Frontline Heroes
Since the start of this pandemic, Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, located in Islandia, has been offering a complimentary wellness program for medical professionals and first responders.
Why horses, you may ask? Going as far back as the ancient Greeks, horses have been utilized to help people deal with incurable illnesses. Hippocrates wrote of the therapeutic value of horseback riding. And 17th century literature documents that equine-assisted therapy was prescribed for gout, neurological disorders, and “low morale.”
“We thought we would use our mission during this pandemic to offer complimentary services to our region’s medical staff and first responders who are on the front lines and needed some well-deserved respite and self-care,” commented Pal-O-Mine CEO and Founder Lisa Gatti.
Sessions may include reiki, mindfulness, and horsemanship – and every experience involves horses and other farm animals. Sessions are run by licensed social workers, reiki masters, and certified equine specialists.
The well-known benefits include reduced stress while providing a sense of calm, connection, and solace. It has been proven that animals and nature help to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension.
“We can all imagine the mental and physical exhaustion medical professionals in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes are currently feeling,” added Gatti, “and our horses are ready and willing to help.”
“The height of COVID-19 was a truly surreal time,” said Elizabeth Boyce, an ICU Nurse with Northwell at one of their hardest hit hospitals. “I felt as if my own personal mental health was the last thing I should focus on. Being with the horses at Pal-O-Mine was my saving grace – I would get an overwhelming sense of peace. The horses were amazing listeners with the ability to connect and understand without words.”
Located on a 13-acre working farm, Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc. – founded 25 years ago – is a private, not-for-profit organization that provides a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning, and healing for children and adults with disabilities. Pal-O-Mine has always valued healthcare professionals who lend their medical skills and caring hearts whenever needed. Now,
in the middle of this pandemic, when they are on the frontlines in the fight against coronavirus, Pal-O-Mine is giving these heroes the opportunity to breathe.
“Equine therapy has proven to be truly transformational, said Gatti. “The therapy horses healing our heroes during this difficult time has been nothing short of remarkable.”
The Nature's Bounty Co.
Nature’s Bounty Donations Nourish Front-Line Workers as well as Those Who are Hungry
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare facilities, front-line workers, as well as local communities have needed more support than ever before. That’s why The Nature’s Bounty Foundation – the charitable arm of The Nature’s Bounty Company dedicated to enhancing lives and supporting wellness in its many forms – partnered with a number of the company’s brands (Nature’s Bounty, Sundown, Solgar, Pure Protein, and others) to help fuel those who are doing all they can to help keep Long Island, and the world, safe and healthy.
While the company has several sites across the U.S., including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida, they are one of the largest manufacturers and employers here on Long Island which is the base of its global operations. Over the past several months during this pandemic, The Nature’s Bounty Co. – based in Ronkonkoma – has been focused on giving back in the communities where its associates live, work, and do business.
Since the start of the pandemic, The Nature’s Bounty Foundation has donated more than 100,000 Pure Protein bars to local food pantries, as well as Long Island and New York City hospitals and nursing homes.
The company also delivered care packages with vitamins and supplements to local rehabilitation and care facilities and nursing homes across Long Island and New York City. The packages included products from Sundown, Osteo Bi-Flex, Solgar and Nature’s Bounty.
“The Nature’s Bounty Foundation hopes these small gestures of gratitude and appreciation help bring a smile and some comfort to those doing the most during this time,” said Beverly Lee-Wo, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at The Nature’s Bounty Co. “We know we’re just one voice in this crisis, but we join in saying thank you to each and every person on the front lines.”
Additionally, the company’s Solgar brand has made product and monetary donations to food pantries, medical centers, and volunteer emergency service workers.
Stony Brook University College of Business
Stony Brook Dispatches Business Students to Help Support COVID-Impacted Businesses
As Long Islanders, we often take Stony Brook University for granted. And that’s understandable; it’s become a part of the fabric of the bi-county region. We often forget that students, researchers, scientists, and scholars come from all over the world to study, work, and consult at the sprawling university – one of the jewels of the State University of New York system.
So it should come as no surprise that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the university quickly marshalled the resources of the institution and launched the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Assistance Program within their College of Business. In partnership with HIA-LI and Stony Book’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), they launched Project Work, an initiative that dispatched College of Business students to pandemic-impacted businesses that needed help, lending their expertise at no-cost to affected organizations while giving these undergraduate and graduate students “real world” experiences.
“We placed more than 50 students in a wide range of businesses and organizations, each working 12 to 40 hours a week,” said Prof. Margot Palermo, Director of Stony Brook’s Business Honors Program. “It has proven to be an invaluable experience for the businesses that needed support in order to weather the pandemic, and the students gained valuable on-the-job experience during this crisis.” Prof. Palermo estimates that the students collectively provided some 5,000 or more person-hours to date.
One company that benefited from the program was Veventize, where four students lent their skills. Veventize is a web-based platform for non-profit organizations to efficiently fundraise without having to host in-person events. “Our Stony Brook students were invaluable resources for us,” said Davi Tserpelis, co-founder of Veventize. “We also provided mentoring to them to help maximize their experience in a real-world learning laboratory.”
One student, Alexa Kosal, who is pursuing an MBA at Stony Brook, credits her experience in the program as a key reason she was able to recently land her dream job at a sales and marketing firm. “I loved the mission of Veventize, helping not-for-profits more effectively and efficiently fundraise,” she said. “And it was great way to sharpen my skills and gain a comfort-level interacting with high-level decision makers.”
Prof. Palermo added that students worked in a myriad of industry sectors such as energy, healthcare, marketing, retail, non-profits, gaming, and financial. “HIA-LI was our number-one intermediary,” commented Prof. Palermo, who said that the organization was key to connecting the right students with the right organizations.
ClearVision Optical Channels Annual Founder’s Day to Give Back Locally
ClearVision Optical recently took part in the company’s annual Founder’s Day celebration honoring the life of Fred Friedfeld, channeling one of the values Fred so deeply believed in by organizing a collection of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be donated to ten local New York hospitals.
This year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of ClearVision’s internal committees, CVO Cares, set out to give back to the local community in order to assist with the healthcare crisis in New York.
The committee collected more than 3,000 PPE items which have been generously donated to ten different hospitals as well as to LIVOAD (Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) who redistributed supplies to police agencies and emergency food workers.
Notably, the group donated PPE to the Northport VA Medical Center Hospital, in honor of Fred, who served in the Navy before founding ClearVision in 1949. Additional recipients include the Long Island Community Hospital (formerly Brookhaven Memorial Hospital), Mather Hospital, Stony Brook University Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Huntington Hospital, St. Catherine’s Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Plainview Hospital, as well as Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.
“We can think of no better was to honor our father’s legacy than to help the community he loved during this unprecedented pandemic,” commented David Friedfeld, President, and Peter Friedfeld, Executive Vice President, in a joint statement. “We also want to thank ClearVision’s talented and dedicated associates who have continued to provide high-quality service during these most difficult times.”
Beyond PPE, the group also collected several boxes of individually packaged snacks and personal care items that were delivered to the medical staff at Stony Brook.
Upon Fred’s passing in 2014, the Friedfeld family established a foundation in his memory at the SUNY School of Optometry in New York City to ensure a positive future for eyecare professionals. To date, the foundation has received over $60,000 in donations and awarded five scholarship recipients.
ClearVision Optical is an award-winning leader in the optical industry, designing and distributing eyewear and sunwear for a myriad of top brands. Headquartered in the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge, ClearVision’s collections are distributed throughout North America and 20 countries around the globe. For information about their PPE, eyecare providers can go to www.cvoptical.com and the general public to www.storeforppe.com.
Visiting Nurse Services & Hospice of Suffolk
With Nearly 70 Years of Experience, Visiting Nurses Battle the COVID Pandemic
Providing charitable, compassionate care to families facing any healthcare crisis is the cornerstone mission of the Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk (VNSHS) since it was founded in 1952. To respond to the COVID crisis, VNSHS immediately implemented processes, technology, and modifications as they adapted to serve home healthcare and hospice, and inpatient hospice patients in Suffolk County.
VNSHS nurses, rehabilitative therapists, and aides use meticulous infection control measures and Personal Protection Equipment to treat patients with pre-existing conditions as well as COVID. Clinicians receive frequent COVID and antibody testing as well as extensive training on CDC guidelines for patient screenings. VNSHS also provides PPE to patients who require it allowing them to safely spend time with family and loved ones.
VNSHS has an established telehealth program which was further expanded since March enabling clinicians to conduct “facetime” visits with patients and family members. Telehealth maximizes a clinician’s ability to monitor patient symptoms and progress and provides educational resources to review medication actions, side effects, interactions, and effectiveness in between home care visits.
As the state’s first freestanding inpatient hospice, Hospice House in East Northport provides compassionate, round the clock, end of life care. Due to COVID, Hospice House implemented enhanced patient screenings, appropriate visitor limitations, and CDC compliant infection control measures. During April and May, half of the rooms were negative pressure serving COVID patients with the remaining rooms available to safely meet the needs of non-COVID patients. VNSHS bereavement counselors help families adjust to their new roles in life, guide them through the bereavement process, and help them plan for the future.
“As the spread of COVID has been contained in our region, elective surgery and medical procedures have resumed, increasing the need for VNSHS home healthcare services,” said Linda Taylor, CEO, Visiting Nurse Service & Hospice of Suffolk. “Many people are not aware that VNSHS licensed social workers provide professional counseling to help patients and their families cope with the stress that arises from COVID and other illnesses.
The commitment, compassion, and expertise of VNSHS staff enabled day-to-day operations and patient care to continue with modifications, but without interruption since the start of the COVID crisis. VNSHS remains hopeful that incidence of new cases will continue to decline but remains ever watchful and stands ready to assist our community as they have for nearly 70 years.
For more information, go to www.visitingnurseservice.org or call 631-261-7200.
island harvest & Walkers Shortbread, Inc.
Mark Kleinman, President and CEO of Walkers Shortbread, Inc., was watching News 12 Long Island back in April and saw a young mother being interviewed at a food bank. “I remember the woman saying that she’d never, ever been to a food bank in her life, and never thought she would” Kleinman recalled. “She added that both she and her husband lost their jobs, were out of money, but that there is no shame when it comes to feeding your kids.”
It was then that Kleinman grasped the true human toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Long Island community and knew he would have to become part of the solution.
The next day he was on the phone with Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest, asking how he could help. And soon thereafter, Walkers – located in the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge – delivered more than $100,000 worth of baked goods to Island Harvest’s distribution center, also in the Innovation Park.
“The economic upheaval caused by the pandemic has forced countless Long Islanders to seek emergency food assistance, many for the first time,” said Dresner. “The region’s business community has been invaluable in helping us provide ongoing food support to people who are struggling to put food on their tables. We’re grateful for the generous donation from Walkers Shortbread Inc. for their help in making sure that no one on Long Island goes hungry.”
Founded in 1992, Island Harvest has become one of Long Island’s premiere hunger-relief organizations. Their volunteers and staff deliver millions of pounds of surplus food – much of which might otherwise go to waste – to a network of 570 Long Island-based food pantries, soup kitchens, and other non-profit organizations that offer feeding services for those in need.
The Walkers Shortbread story goes back much further – to 1898 – when the twenty-one-year-old Joseph Walker opened the doors of his own bakery in Scotland with a loan of just 50 British pounds, the equivalent of just $62 today. Now headquartered in the Innovation Park, Walkers prides itself on never straying from their original recipes that contain “clean” ingredients – water, flour, sugar, and salt.
Family service league
We often think of COVID-19 front-line workers as doctors, nurses, police, and ambulance workers. However, facing mental health or substance abuse issues can be overwhelming, especially combined with the additional stress and challenges our communities are facing due to COVID-19. That’s put the staff at the not-for-profit Family Service League (FSL) on the front lines providing essential mental health counseling, addiction treatment, and crisis care for children and adults.
“During these challenging times, FSL remains dedicated to maintaining vital programs that Long Islanders depend on every day,” said Karen Boorshtein, LCSW, FSL President and CEO. “This includes enhanced outreach via telehealth for mental health counseling, addiction treatment, senior advocacy programs, and care coordination.”
FSL’s DASH (Diagnostic, Assessment, and Stabilization Hub) Crisis Care Center – located in the Long Island Innovation Park at Hauppauge – is a “beacon of hope” according to Boorshtein, for Suffolk County residents who are struggling to cope. Their hotline and DASH facility can be accessed 24/7 by calling 631-952-3333 or visit www.fsl-li.org for additional services.
- FSL’s network of homeless shelters provide housing, food, and essentials for over 600 Long Island children and adults each night. These people live in poverty without many of the necessities most of us take for granted.
- Senior Outreach Workers are caring for those vulnerable seniors unable to access services and are suffering from social isolation due to COVID-19.
- FSL has expanded the delivery of critical counseling remotely via telehealth – secure digital technology, telephone, and video conferencing methods. This enhances the outreach of care and health education to thousands of our clients.
Family Service League (FSL), established in 1926, is a Long Island non-profit human service organization providing a safety net for people in need. They touch the lives of 50,000 people annually, addressing some of the most prevalent and pressing human needs facing Long Island communities. FSL offers over 60 programs at 20 locations throughout Long Island.
Added Boorshtein, “Together, we can overcome the challenges of this unprecedented pandemic and work toward a stronger future.”
East/West industries, inc.
Ronkonkoma-based East/West Industries, Inc. is in the business of saving lives. Since 1968, they’ve been an industry leader in the manufacture of life-support systems for high-performance aircraft. So, when Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone asked them to donate their time and pivot their operations to manufacture 10,000 COVID-19 masks for Suffolk County law enforcement personnel use, their answer was a resounding “yes!”
“East/West is an incredible company that utilized their expertise and their workers to partner with us to help protect our first responders,” said County Executive Bellone. “Because of their efforts, police officers, correction officers, and deputy sheriffs now have face masks that are in line with the new CDC guidelines.”
“We utilized our current supply chain to assist in laser cutting all the material as we began the full sewing process in-house by utilizing our onsite staff, producing 500 to 1,000 masks per week,” said Teresa Ferraro, President of East/West. “However, the demand was so critical that we partnered with Davis Aircraft, a local supplier, as well as a sewing consortium of local unemployed seamstresses, in order to supply the 10,000 masks as rapidly as possible.” East/West and the consortium each produced 5,000 masks in a four-week period in order to meet the full requirement of 10,000.
East/West is an award-winning, woman-owned small business that is committed to supporting the aerospace industry as an acclaimed partner and supplier of choice to such prime customers as Sikorsky Aircraft, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed, Bell Helicopter, and all branches of the Department of Defense. With a growing and talented staff experienced in designing, developing, and manufacturing escape, life support, seating, and ground support equipment for high-performance military aircraft, East/West has attained a position of leadership in the industry.
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Scientists and staff at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) – as well as other U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories – are marshalling their expertise, unique facilities, and other key resources in the battle against COVID-19. At BNL:
- Research is underway to better understand key characteristics of the virus that causes COVID-19 and its interactions with human cells, which could help guide the development of therapeutic drugs and vaccines.
- BNL scientists and collaborators are using experiments and computational methods to identify the most promising drug/vaccine candidates and developing tools to help other scientists keep up with the latest developments around the world.
- The Lab has also gathered critical protective equipment as part of a Federal effort to support medical professionals and is exploring options for making much-needed supplies.
“BNL has exceptional resources for addressing some of the most urgent scientific and logistical challenges of this pandemic,” said John Hill, Director of the Lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), who is chairing a working group to coordinate BNL’s COVID-19 science and technology efforts, and is serving on a team coordinating the COVID-19 research across all the DOE national labs.
“The speed with which the entire scientific community is attacking this problem is amazing,” he said, “and the whole Lab, whether working off site or on, is part of this effort.”
In addition to attacking the COVID-19 research head-on, the Laboratory has been working with the DOE to gather and distribute the Lab’s excess personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care workers on the front lines. Hill’s COVID-19 science and technology working group is also exploring other ways the Lab can contribute at the local hospital level.
“We’re looking at ways we can sterilize masks and other critical equipment,” Hill said, “and we’re exploring options for using the Lab’s 3-D printers to make components for face shields, or possibly even ventilators.”
Meanwhile, BNL, in collaboration with Stony Brook University, deployed a shipping container outfitted with a Critical Care Decontamination System at Stony Brook Hospital, which uses hydrogen peroxide vapor to clean tens of thousands of pieces of PPE at a time.
Bank of America
Bank of America committed $1 million of direct support to Long Island communities impacted by COVID-19. The funds are aimed to assist Long Islanders who are experiencing emergency financial hardships, support for food banks, and enabling the continuation of essential services such as food delivery to vulnerable populations.
Among the community-based organizations Bank of America is supporting are Island Harvest Food Bank, United Way of Long Island, Long Island Cares, Lighthouse Mission, EAC Network’s Meals on Wheels, Community Action Southold Town, Interfaith Nutrition Network, and Family Service League.
To help Nassau-Suffolk residents and business owners who are struggling to pay their bills, Bank of America has deferred nearly one million payments since the beginning of March. Individual customers can request to defer credit card, auto loan, and mortgage payments. Small business clients can request to defer small business loan and credit card payments. The bank is also providing small business support through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“Our clients rely on us every day and for every aspect of their financial lives,” said Dean Athanasia, President of Consumer and Small Business at Bank of America. “We’re going to continue to provide convenient access to the important services they count on, and the additional assistance and support they need during this difficult period.”
Bank of America recognizes that its “essential employees” have been on the front-lines of the fight to beat COVID-19. “We take our responsibilities to our employees very seriously,” commented Robert Isaksen, Long Island Market President. “Staff who are serving clients in financial and contact centers are currently receiving special compensation incentives, and expanded employee benefits such as no-fee telemedicine and backup childcare.”
Bank of America also hired 2,000 new employees in March, and the company has committed to no COVID-19-related layoffs in 2020.
To contact Bank of America, click here or call 800-432-1000.
Association for mental health and wellness
Pandemic increases need for online mental health services
“Since the Coronavirus began to invade our lives and restrict our lifestyles, many of us have struggled with the onslaught of frightening messages and the negative effects of social isolation,” said Michael Stoltz, LCSW, the CEO of the Ronkonkoma-based Association for Mental Health and Wellness (MHAW). “We have seen a fast-growing need for increased support and guidance among our existing clients and the public at-large.”
That’s why MHAW needed to add capacity to its Mental Health Helpline which is available to residents who need help finding and accessing assistance for themselves, for a friend, or a family member. Helpline staff provide information and referrals to community resources for persons living with mental illness, their families, and service providers, as well as people in the general population who are experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic.
The Helpline can be accessed at 631-471-7242 ext. 2 or at email@example.com. Additional resources can be found at www.helpline.mhaw.org.
MHAW has also expanded its Peer Support Line and online Peer Support Groups. These services are staffed by trained and experienced Certified Peer Specialists who have their own lived experience with emotional distress. These supports will maximize access to those served and help to minimize the potential negative effects of social isolation during this challenging time.
In addition, mandatory social distancing has sharply curtailed people’s ability to grieve in conventional, in-person settings. As a result, MHAW, and its sister agency, the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, are offering online bereavement support groups designed to provide comfort, support, and “grief tools” to those who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus. For more information, go to www.bereavement.mhaw.org.
Chick-Fil-A in Commack and Long Island Cares
Connecting resources during these difficult times
On April 23, Bryan Beasley, the Owner/Operator of Chick-fil-A in Commack, contacted HIA-LI President and CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli with a dilemma. He said he managed to get the restaurant reopened the week prior after a three-week closure. “It was a challenging period,” Beasley said, “But we have been able to keep everyone employed the whole time and are doing our very best to serve the community again.”
Beasley said, “We have been running a limited menu and have some food and supplies that will expire before we bring back our full menu.” He added, “I’m hoping to donate this food before it goes bad and was wondering if you have a contact at Long Island Cares.”
So, HIA-LI did what HIA-LI does best . . . connect people with resources.
“Long Island Cares is grateful to HIA-LI for helping to create a new partnership for us with Chick-fil-A,” said Paule T. Pachter, CEO at Long Island Cares. “Their generous donation has allowed us ship more than 50,000 pounds of quality food to agencies and to our satellite centers, helping to feed hungry Long Islanders during this pandemic.” Paule also thanked HIA-LI for initiating a COVID-19 Virtual Food Drive.
During this trying time, a primary goal of HIA-LI has been to be a one-stop resource to the business community. “Thanks to you and your team for all the hard work you’ve been doing collecting and sharing information,” said Beasley.
Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP
CMM Mobilizes Coronavirus Hotline and Charitable Efforts
The law firm of Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP (CMM) is leading the way through the COVID-19 pandemic with the launch of a first-of-its-kind Coronavirus Hotline.
Launched in mid-March, the complimentary hotline is open to all members of the business community, regardless of whether they are CMM clients. Businesses can call (631) 738-6781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business. Calls and emails are routed to the appropriate CMM attorney, who promptly follows up with guidance, at no charge. To date, they’ve answered hundreds of questions from business owners on a variety of critical topics.
The complimentary hotline is in addition to CMM’s online Coronavirus Resource Hub at www.cmmllp.com/coronavirus. There, businesses can find up-to-the-minute resources including articles about new legislation, disaster loan relief, grant opportunities, and other guidance for businesses to move forward.
In addition, their charitable foundation, CMM Cares, has mobilized the business community, partnering with Stony Brook Hospital to collect and donate comfort care items to medical professionals fighting on the front lines. On social media, they also spotlight inspirational stories about companies and nonprofits that are helping those in need during this critical time. Check out CMM Cares’ Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter channels.
BNB Bank Works ‘Round-the-Clock’ to Save Long Island Jobs
Things have been hopping at BNB Bank according to President and CEO Kevin O’Connor. BNB, the largest independent community bank on Long Island, secured $950 million in funding from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for approximately 3,800 small businesses on Long Island and New York City.
“We immediately mobilized over 100 employees, representing every part of the bank, to review, process, and manually input applications into the SBA’s loan portal. Our size gave us the advantage of being able to modify our processes in real-time as SBA guidelines evolved. It also allowed us to focus our efforts on processing PPP loans, literally 24/7, right up until funds ran out,” stated O’Connor. “This has also been a unique opportunity for our employees to make a difference and be part of something that is helping the community.”
O’Connor added that 80 percent of the loans were for $350,000 and less, an indication that most of the funds were getting into the hands of neighborhood businesses. He estimates that they’ve helped save between 95,000 jobs across Long Island.