GENEVA — Staying home, staying connected and staying safe.
That’s the thrust of the Geneva COVID-19 task force, started by Fifth Ward City Councilor Laura Salamendra, which now includes a host of public and private officials from the city and town.
A main component of the effort to keep Geneva connected and informed with reliable information was unveiled Tuesday, when a new website, ConnectGeneva.com, was launched.
“What people need right now is good information about what is happening and what they should do next,” Salamendra said in a press release issued by the task force this week. “The website and other resources provide information, concentrating on local resources and guidance.”
The task force said the website is designed to serve as a conduit of local information about essential services, while also providing a forum for communicating needs or concerns and even volunteering.
The task force said there also are some lighter features as well, including a gallery of images of locals helping in the community.
The YouTube channel includes videos of current and former residents performing live music, guiding exercise sessions or giving talks on issues of local interest. A playlist of videos with children’s content, including people reading books and sharing stories, is available in both English and Spanish.
Task force member Jan Regan is excited about the website’s potential.
“The ConnectGeneva website will be a portal for a wealth of information, leaning heavily on the local,” she said by email. “Updated lists of businesses that remain open, where takeout is available and local initiatives being taken to help people know we’re all in this together.”
Also on the way, said task force members: a postcard to be mailed to all city and town residences with the official instructions of “Stay Home, Stay Connected, Save Lives,” as well as information detailing the new online resources.
The task force is maintaining two phone lines that will be updated with current information and a description of available services in the community. Information in English can be heard by calling (315) 333-0399, or in Spanish by calling (315) 333-0382. Mayor Steve Valentino is greeting callers in the current message.
While the city and town funded the postcard mailing, the task force said the website and phone lines were developed at no charge by BluePrint Geneva, a local non-profit. Local software engineer Jeff Henderson of Geneva Peeps provided design services for free as well.
“We know that Geneva is a city of volunteers, and that’s never clearer than in a time of crisis,” said task force member Jackie Augustine, BluePrint’s executive director who also is a former city councilor. “We’re happy to help harness those resources. Besides, it gave me a chance to create something like the old ‘time and temperature’ phone line, which I absolutely loved as a kid.”
Salamendra sees much good coming from the group’s efforts.
“The task force is working hard to make it possible to do the most important thing we can do: stay home,” she said in a Facebook message. “This means linking people to community services: food access, emergency childcare, tel-counseling, grocery deliveries, enriching activities for youth, and safe housing. But it also means providing opportunities for community building. We may be physically separated, but we can still make connections.”
In addition to Salamendra, Regan and Augustine, other task force members include city staff Erica Collins, Jessica Avila, Katie Labbe and Dave Sharman; Town Supervisor Mark Venuti; County Supervisor Lou Guard; and representatives from Finger Lakes Health, Community Health, the Geneva City School District and nearly 20 additional agencies that serve the area.