The date was October 17th, 2020. It was a Saturday, and most people were probably at home lazing about, while others were out playing elsewhere. But if someone took a moment to go down to the Bridgewater township municipal complex, they might have noticed an odd group of people. Those people were all wearing masks, gloves, and each held a trash bag or a stick to pick trash up with. They were out and about cleaning up the trash scattering around. It is thanks to any volunteers like these that everyone can enjoy a clean and beautiful community.
The community cleaning event described above was organized by the Bridgewater Chinese American Association (BCAA), whose mission is to unify the Chinese Americans and get involved in and contribute to local communities. During the events, all the volunteers practiced social distancing and took precautions (e.g. wearing masks and gloves) to ensure safety. BCAA thanks all volunteers, including 8 children: Zachary Hsieh, Jake Luo, Issac Tian, Andrew Wang, Ethan Wang, Victoria Wang, Andrew Zhang, and Bryan Zou, and 10 parents: Judy Cheng, Jean Lee, Erin Hsieh, Tao Luo, Carol Shi, Michael Tan, Henry Wang, Tianjiao Wang, Chris Zhang, and Ling Zheng. BCAA thanks Jean Li for making home-made candies and Carol Shi for bringing cookies as gifts for kids participating in this event. BCAA would also like to thank the Township Human Services for the support and for providing cleaning tools.
Because of this unfortunate global pandemic, lots of time has been on my hands. With this time, I’ve been able to work on calligraphy, something that I’ve always shown interest in but had little time for. My teachers and friends always compliment my nice handwriting and calligraphy and different typefaces have come easy to me.
When I learned that Robert Wood Johnson Hospital is looking to fill the halls with cards and messages of hope and thanks, I decided to spend time to draw and write thank you cards to the healthcare workers. When my brother and I decided to donate masks to Green Knoll Rescue Squad and his school’s Health & Wellness Center, I also created handwritten cards using different style of fonts. I would like to show my appreciation to these frontline workers risking their owns lives to save COVID-19 patients.
To say Covid-19 has profoundly disoriented our lives is probably an understatement. Three weeks of social distancing for most families in Bridgewater has tested our resiliency,unveiled the power of community, and awakened our creativity to better cope with the situation.
While there is no shortage of politicians and journalists bickering at each other, endless live conferences, and statistical models projecting the pandemic, there is a shortage of masks.These masks are part of the essential Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare professionals, grocery clerks, deliverymen, EMT crews, etc. in keeping the majority of us afloat during the crisis.
One of the task forces created by the Bridgewater Chinese American Association (BCAA) in February was “Supply Chain”. Led by Chris Zhang, Jean Lee and another resident, the goal has been to identify reliable mask manufacturers in China, purchase, ship, and distribute the masks throughout New Jersey. This has been made possible by generous donations from hundreds of local residents.
• Did you know that the team had to study different international standards to identify the appropriate models of masks that were acceptable by the US Custom?
• Did you know that both the US and China government regulations had changed rapidly (if not daily) on import and export requirements and restrictions?
• Did you know that most manufacturers require 100% payment up front recently?
• Did you know that the manufacturing and shipping leadtimes were getting longer, such as 10 weeks?
The team combed through operational details with hours of phone calls on top of their work and family responsibilities. This led to the purchasing and acquisition of 5,000 masks from China as of April 3, 2020. As a side note, another order of 5,000 KN95 masks could notbe shipped to NJ last minute due to CDC’s change in regulation. The team acted swiftly, cancelled theorder, and used the funds to purchase 700 protective gowns, 200 pairs of boots and 120 protective hoods instead.
Realizing that supply shortage of PPE was becoming imminent, BCAA established a new task force last week with 30+ volunteers to make masks at home. The team lead, Ella Liu (previously a Certified Medical Assistant), has crafty hands. To alleviate shortage, Ella has been working tirelessly with volunteers to collect materials, provide instructions, collectmasks, and donate them to St. Peter’s Hospital (New Brunswick, NJ) and others based on their requirement. Who knew mask-making would become a “family activity” with moms and daughters digging fabrics and elastic bands from their linen closets, studying You-Tube videos, brushing up their sewing skills, dads ordering fabrics online and picking up donations from the neighborhoods, and handsome teenage boys posing as models with masks? To cater to a diverse population, some masks are tailored to youth with cartoon characters. Some masks have the bright stars, red and white stripes of our nation, and some are “seasonal” with brightly colored spring flowers. In honor of moms who didn’t have the luxury to enjoy the much-needed beautiful weather today while making 100+ masks, perhaps we could declare April 4 as “National Day of Masks”!
Facing adversity may obscure hopes for people, but we also know that the sun is above the clouds…
From a local contagion in January to a global pandemic in March, Covid-19 is the “Black Swan” that most of us have only heard of in arts and literatures depicting horrific plagues in ancient history. As many Asian-Americans in Bridgewater and surrounding areas have deep roots in China and beyond, many of us find ourselves emotionally attached to the health crisis as it quickly spirals from Asia to our hometowns in New Jersey.
With tremendous supports and compassions from local residents, core members from the Bridgewater Chinese American Association (BCAA), Henry Wang, Jean Lee, Chris Zhang, Chad Wang, TianJiao Wang and Carol Shi formed an action committee, and jump-started numerous volunteering efforts. Five sub-teams have been focusing on Finance, Hospital Communications, Supply Chain, News/Media, and Donations to maximum efficiency as we coordinate with hundreds of residents and many local hospitals, agencies, oversea manufactures, local municipalities and more.
As of March 23, 1) total monetary donation by residents & friends was $16,160; 2) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) purchases included 744 isolation gowns and 10 boxes of goggles; and 3) personal donations included 11 boxes of gloves (~ 100/box), 18 boxes of N95, surgical and other types of masks (50-100/box), and 15 boxes of disinfectant wipes.
On Tuesday March 24 alone, BCAA donated PPEs to the Bridgewater Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the Chief of Police, the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas (New Brunswick) Hospital, and the Robert Wood Johnson Somerset (Bridgewater) Hospital. All left over items as of today will be donated to the RWJ Barnabas Health Center in Livingston, NJ. When dropping off supplies at the Bridgewater Township today, Wells Winegar, Deputy Township Administrator, and Paul Payne, Captain of the Police Department, expressed sincere gratitude to the local Chinese community while practicing social distancing!
Some heartwarming actions include:• Jean Lee and Ernie Hsieh drove their 15-person van, 2 hours each way, from Bridgewater to Delaware to pick up 120 boxes of PPEs on Sunday March 22. Note: the 120 boxes were for the Bridgewater and Bedminster Chinese American Associations. • 19+ families acted swiftly in 2 days to provide their donations which were eventually delivered to the Bridgewater Township OEM. Families and volunteers made countless trips to drop off or collect donations. • One resident donated 1,000 surgical masks. Her friend in China generously offered the masks for free!• One resident’s friend made a one-time donation of $2,000. She has been instrumental in connecting us with area hospitals. • Two residents donated $500 each. • A small number of middle school and high school students built the BCAA Covid-19 website in a matter of days.
As everyone is feeling the domino effect of the outbreak, many of us are fortunate to find comfort and resilience with abundance of supplies, food, shelter and quality time with loved ones. If you haven’t, please consider any support that you could provide to families and businesses who are facing dire economic prospects. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d like to hear ideas and/or inspiring stories too!
Over the course of a mere four days, the BCAA raised, bought, retrieved, and distributed over $10,000 worth of much needed medical supplies and equipment to two local hospitals. Our deepest thanks goes to all of those who donated and volunteered in the effort. Just this morning, two volunteers drove fours hours to the State of Delaware to pick up the supplies and began delivering them to the different hospitals. These places include the RWJ University Hospital in New Brunswick and the St. Barnabas Hospital in Morristown. So many people played a crucial part in this event by raising money, finding and contacting the sellers, and getting the supplies to where they needed to be. We are extremely grateful to them all. It is local events like these that make a difference in the global fight against COVID-19!
Never in a million years would anyone foresee such a tumultuous time that we are experiencing in light of the current global COVID-19 outbreak. Our heartfelt prayers go out to families impacted by what President Trump calls “the invisible enemy”. We are grateful to the countless government officials, private sector leaders and workers, health care professionals, and all the essential workers for their leadership and sacrifices to keep us safe and protected.
Our Bridgewater community is blessed with members from the Bridgewater Chinese American Association (BCCA), who recently formed a committee, BCAA In Action. The group has prioritized a list of actions to help the community stay strong, leveraging the even larger Chinese populations in Somerset, Hunterdon and Essex counties, to name a few. Some of the contributions to date include:
Since February, the committee has been in close communications with the Bridgewater municipality, Board of Education, and public schools to promote public awareness and suggest to the officials to take action. Such actions include school closures and suspending public events and recreational activities to protect the wellbeing of the residents.
BCAA secured supplies from China and purchased medical grade masks (such as N95). Shipments are expected to arrive in NJ during the week of March 22nd and will be donated to local hospitals. The total monetary donation as of March 20 is $8800.
On a smaller scale, volunteers donated roughly 100 of their own masks, gloves, and other protective items to hospitals such as Hunterdon Medical Center and Newark Beth Israel.
As the outbreak unfolds in front of us, the daily inconveniences for many of us is small compared to the financial devastation that small businesses are facing, the risks that health care professionals are facing, and the sacrifices that many essential workers are making. Please feel free to share your ideas and support. Contact BCAA at email@example.com.
Winston Churchill once said “This is no time for Ease and Comfort. It is time to Dare and Endure.” United, we will turn the tide!