When the 1-mile zone was set up in New Rochelle and the National Guard was called to help on March 10, most of the Scarsdale Chinese realized the dire situation our own community might face. We had been closely monitoring what happened in China for over a month, and many members wanted to help locally by drawing upon the experiences we learned from China.
On March 17, over an urgent late night meeting, the Scarsdale Chinese Association (SCA) Executive Board launched a special task force, “SCA Help the Local.” Hoping a syndicated effort would be effective, Rita Pan and Lisa Tan were appointed to lead the task force. Overnight Tan set up an online campaign form for members to pledge donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or monetary donations to fund a lunch program and to support White Plains Hospital (WPH) and Westchester Medical Center (WMC) directly.
A team was quickly established in the morning. Chair Lauren Yang-Guo, SCA secretary Jennifer Hong, members Han Zhou, Yin Lao, Ellen Sun and treasurer Kelly Shang joined the team.
In response to the White Plains Hospital COVID-19 donation campaign, a lunch box delivery program was arranged by Zhou. The lunch program fund reached its goal within the first two hours. By the end of the week, more than 100 families donated or pledged about $30,000. Five lunches totaling 350 hot meals have been delivered to White Plain Hospital as of April 4.
The task force set up two other groups working in areas related to PPE, trying to bridge the gap between need and supplies, with Hong focusing on WMC and Lao on WPH.
As information about facilities in need kept pouring in, members started to donate masks reserved for their own families. More than 40 families donated more than 1,000 masks of different kinds — surgical masks, dust masks and some medical N95 and gloves. Box by box, Sun received and sorted them based on type and “cry-for-help” information gathered among members through friends or social media. SCA member Dr. Ru-liang Xu, MD, a New York pathologist and executive board member of Association of Chinese American Physicians (ACAP) agreed to be an adviser. Yang-Guo mobilized a team of 60 volunteers standing by for ad hoc work, such as delivery and pickup of donated masks. All donated masks were sent to more than half a dozen hospitals and facilities in need.
At the same time, other members collected rapidly changing information about PPE supplies, trying to match donations or supplies to local hospitals. On March 19, SCA members Ailun Yang and Hong coordinated a donation of 10,000 masks and 3,000 medical gowns from the Yanbao Foundation in China to WMC. The vast amount of PPE supplies and cry-for-help information was overwhelming for the task force members to follow and to vet.
On March 20, Tan noticed a tweet by Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking the public to help supply PPE, and Pan jumped immediately into action to connect to the state government. Failing to get through by phone to state officials, Pan called the office of Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. Paulin’s office promptly connected state officials and several local hospitals to a couple of bulk PPE supply sources, which were introduced and secured by SCA members Dr. Jun Xu and Hong Su.
Some SCA members stepped up and purchased PPE to donate. Kiki Hong funded and secured shipments of 5,000 Level 2 masks from China. Julie Zhu drove to pick up the masks on short notice from Kiki Hong. With the help of Scarsdale resident Dara Gruenberg, Jennifer Hong arranged to donate 3,000 masks to Scarsdale Village first responders and to the Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The remaining 2,000 went to local hospitals and doctors’ offices. In addition, Yang-Guo raised another $10,000, which was added to the funds raised by the SCA Special Task Force to buy 3,570 N95 masks from China and within a week all masks arrived and were donated to hospitals in need.
The Help the Local Special Task Force enabled SCA members to show their compassion in such a difficult time, and more than 100 families participated while even more rallied in spirit.
“Huddle Together to Get Warm” is an old Chinese saying. “United we shall overcome” is our motto.
Best wishes to our community.
The Scarsdale Chinese Association represents more than 300 families living in Scarsdale.