Going an Extra Mile for Frontline Workers


by Mary Alice Franklin, ArtsNews Editor

South of Hudson River Museum (HRM), also in Yonkers is St. Joseph’s Hospital. As a close neighbor, the Museum was motivated to help during the current health crisis.  So Director and CEO Masha Turchinsky and Assistant Director for Facilities and Operations Todd Jones dropped off the Museum’s collection of masks and nitrile gloves to the healthcare workers.  These masks and gloves, typically used by staff for art handling and conservation of artworks, proved useful as personal protective equipment greatly needed by medical staff as they tackle COVID-19. 

Those at HRM were not the only ones motivated to help. Arts institutions and artists throughout Westchester found ways to give back to first responders and frontline workers since the health crisis began. Village Squares Quilters have sewn and donated masks and caps to food pantries, homeless and elderly individuals, essential workers and hospitals. The White Plains Public Library’s sewing machines and fabric are being used by the Hastings-on-Hudson Mask Project to create masks for Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, while its two 3D printers were donated to a 3D-printer farm organized by St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers. 

Artist Barbara Segal has also put her 3D printer to work for the cause. “Right now, our goal is to produce 1,000 mask shields per day,” she explained. Segal was using her printer to create miniatures of her marble artwork. Her son, David Mack, a product designer with a background in mechanical engineering, put his skills to good use creating his own model of face shields. Together, they have printed and delivered 700 shields to local facilities, including Westchester Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Montefiore Hospital and more. Due to their GoFundMe campaign, they show no signs of slowing down. She added: “We want to ramp up production by purchasing more 3D printers and materials.” The arts have also played a role in paying tribute to healthcare workers. The arts provide respite and encouragement to those who have been tirelessly working on the front lines. For instance, Violinist Rosemarie Castellano, board member and long-time volunteer with Songcatchers, serenades medical workers in New Rochelle with uplifting songs from her balcony every evening. Blue Door Art Center responded to a request by St. Joseph’s Hospital for art supplies to be used in a wellness program for medical interns, helping them to de-stress from the pressure they have been under since the outbreak began. Sanctuary Series, Bridgemusik (Rockland) and videographer Tim Grajek each created video tributes to essential workers.  On Mother’s Day, M&M Performing Arts Company, dressed in Victorian garb, handed out gifts at the food pantry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Verplanck. Staff and volunteers from The Bedford Playhouse delivered fresh popcorn to first responders, and provided access to previously-recorded sold-out events. The list goes on. 

Says Turchinsky: “One bright spot during these challenging times is witnessing the many ways in which our community is pulling together to help one another. You see it every day in large ways and small gestures.”

A version of this article first appeared in the June issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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