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Top Stories > General

Coping with staying at home for COVID-19: Part 8

May 21, 2020

By Patricio Robayo - staff writer

By: Photo by Rafael Gonzalez Jr.
Saraid Gonzalez is home and working full time for Sullivan 180 during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also taking care of her family.
SULLIVAN — Continuing to explore how county residents are coping with working remotely and/or being home for an extended period of time in an effort to “PAUSE” and flatten the curve of the spread of COVID-19, here's a look at how two more locals are dealing with these challenging times.

Saraid Gonzalez

For Saraid Gonzalez from Liberty, when the PAUSE went into effect she said, “Immediately, I felt myself kind of spiraling, not necessarily depression, but I definitely felt something.”
While she is at home, she is still working full time for Sullivan 180 as their Program Director.
“We have daily Zoom meetings, strategizing and looking at how we can improve our programs and what we can do to help the community,” said Gonzalez.
She is also busy as Sullivan County's Census Coordinator.
“I'm on daily, weekly Zoom meetings with our complete count committees, trying to strategize ways in this time, to spread the word on how important it is for people to fill out their census,” said Gonzalez.

She has also become a home school teacher to her nine-year-old son Rafael, who is in the fourth grade at Liberty Elementary School.
She said it's been a challenge helping him navigate the new world of virtual learning.
One of the things she has been able to do to lessen the impact of the current times for her son and her whole family is to create a dedicated space for each activity.
Gonzalez says there is a space in her home for her son, where he can learn, and she also created an office space for herself.
“One of my strengths is organization and time management, so I'm able to apply that at home,” added Gonzalez.
But she said, even with that, her son still misses his classmates and teachers at Liberty as seeing them online is not the same as in-person interaction.
And that's also the same for her as she misses going to her office and seeing her colleagues. She also misses her church [Family Church in Middletown].
She said her church has been offering services on Sunday online and will soon be offering bible study on Wednesday. And every day at 7 p.m., everyone from the congregation joins in on Facebook and checks in.
“Without this connection...I don't know what I would do. It has just been very inspirational,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says she mostly stays home, but her husband, also named Rafael, leaves for work daily for the Gerry Foundation and does most of the shopping nowadays.
And when she can, she has been volunteering her time at the Catskills Food Hub in Liberty, helping to put food orders together and to help with the distribution.
“It's been hectic; I fit it in my schedule. It's a little bit of me-time, getting out of the house and having a little break from being a mom, teacher, and Program Director,” said Gonzalez.
She has also been donating to local causes like Operation Hope, The Boys and Girls Club, and the Rural Migrant Ministry.
Furthermore, Gonzalez says she has been trying to exercise and get out more with her son during his gym time. She's been using online videos and does her workout when her son is still asleep.
For her son, he is a big basketball fan, so now that the weather has improved, she has been going out daily with him to play.
And during dinnertime, they all sit around the table and talk. “Just really communicating and being open with him, making sure that he's okay,” said Gonzalez.
She is not sure how things will look once the PAUSE is lifted, and we all try to go back to “normal.” But she is thankful that her family is together, and she and her husband are both working during this pandemic.

Ariel Shanberg
For Rock Hill resident and Executive Director for the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) Ariel Shanberg, the PAUSE has been both exciting and challenging. When it went into effect, the DVAA's gallery has temporarily shut their doors.
“The most important thing was to ensure the safety of our staff and audiences amidst circumstances that were changing every day,” he said.
The DVAA had to quickly address all the logistics around how to get their staff working remotely.
“Words like Zoom and Slack have become regular parts of my daily vocabulary,” said Shanberg.
He also realized that there needed to be some time for all of them to absorb the new reality.
“It has impacted everyone differently. Each of us has a different situation at home. I have to say DVAA's staff and the board have been amazing. They are a truly dedicated and creative group of individuals,” said Shanberg. He said collaborating with the staff has been a bright spot during this crisis.
The DVAA has been offering virtual programming during the PAUSE, such as the DVAA @ Home series on their Facebook page, which airs every Saturday at 7 p.m.
The series looks to connect the DVAA with their audience during the COVID-19 pandemic by presenting music, theatre, visual arts, film, poetry, and many more disciplines. The program is running until June 2020.
“As a director, I've been inspired by how these emergency strategies will shift to emergent ones and guide us in supporting artists and arts organizations and engaging audiences in ever better ways,” said Shanberg.
Life at the Shanberg household is quite busy. Not only is he working full time at home, but his wife Jamie is also. She is a teacher in the Fallsburg Central School District, and they have two young children Eli, 3, and Sari, who is 18 months old.
“With two parents working from home and our kids being three years old and 18 months, it doesn't feel like a PAUSE has arrived at our house but rather quite the opposite,” added Shanberg.
However, when the sun sets and it's time for dinner, Shanberg said that's when the family comes together.
“Perhaps meal times come closest to ‘downtime' as they have become less rushed and provided us the opportunity to indulge in preparing meals that are more involved than usual,” said Shanberg.
Being on PAUSE, Shanberg said he has been facing some challenges running the gallery from home, especially having to reset and revise their programming.
“We had a lot of exciting things already in place for 2020, and while it's unclear how long this new normal will be for, I think it's important to find pathways to realize the meaningful plans we had in place,” said Shanberg.
He says he spends a lot of time focusing on how the arts can sustain and strengthen the community during this time.
“Along with our own programs in which we are working to keep folks creatively connected and engaged through things like the weekly art challenge, sharing resources, spotlighting good things our creative community is doing to help us all get through this moment, we've been working with our grantees to help provide them with resources and strategies to keep the arts alive in Sullivan County now and in the future,” said Shanberg.
And being able to sustain the program and services through this crisis financially is something that Shanberg is concerned about.
“Everyone has been impacted in this - from our individual patrons to our business supporters and our governmental partners. We've been fortunate to have been able to secure some funding through the CARES Act, including the Payroll Protection Plan Loan and generous supporters that helped address our losses, but a lot depends on how long this will stretch out,” added Shanberg.
One of the great things the DVAA does is bring people together through the arts, Shanberg said.
“I greatly miss the collective experience of seeing a film or live performance, and the reactions visitors share after viewing an exhibition or hearing a lecture,” said Shanberg.
However, through all of the ups and downs of being on PAUSE and working from home, Shanberg is thankful that his family is together. And because of this PAUSE, he has been able to see his daughter grow up right before his eyes and reach important milestones in her life.

If you have a story on how you are coping with the COVID-19 crisis and would like to be featured, email

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