BeaverCountian.com is telling our county’s stories of personal sacrifice and need as we combat the coronavirus pandemic together.
Today, stories from a Heritage Valley employee; an Ambridge music Monday collaboration; and a Beaver children’s writing coach.
by BeaverCountian.com contributing editor Lori Boone
A reader recently sent this message to BeaverCountian.com with no name attached:
I work for one of Heritage Valley Specialty offices, in which we remain open normal business hours to treat emergency patients.
Even though we are remaining open for patient needs, all staff hours are being cut in half. They want us using our vacation time or take it without pay. They are not willing to pay us for the hours we are missing. It apparently is happening in multiple HV physician offices.
How can a very profitable company, a “Pittsburgh’s Best Hospital”, facility be cutting employee hours during this virus and not be willing to pay us, as other very less profitable companies are willing to pay their employees to be off.
They are not concerned with the virus spreading because we are still coming to work half the time, without the proper PPE equipment, treating patients. They are concerned about their financial gain in this critical health situation. They are taking food out of the mouths of the employees and their families, in order for them to remain profitable in this current situation.
BeaverCountian.com on Monday morning called a Heritage Valley spokeswoman to ask about this person’s claims. Though told an appropriate department would be contacted for more information, none has yet been forthcoming. If HV responds, we will update this piece.
In recent days, the site has called with other questions that aren’t immediately answered, though we’re told we’ll receive a return contact. Instead, what’s happened twice now is a blanket press release to all media issued at a later time, and specific questions go unanswered.
For example, a call Monday morning asking about virus-related call volumes at its physicians’ offices and ConvenientCare locations, as well as numbers of those referred on to actual testing, resulted in a press release Monday night citing 48 people were tested at HV’s first day of testing at its Center Township facility.
That response, or lack of it, doesn’t reflect the depth of concern or overall sickness in our community that BeaverCountian.com was seeking. And, as stated, it doesn’t allow for follow-up or more specific questioning.
They’re calling it Music Monday Isolation Edition.
A group of local musicians that would typically play Monday porch concerts at Laughlin Memorial Library in Ambridge is instead taking turns today broadcasting sets from the safety of their own homes.
James Tobin on guitar, his wife Debbie on mandolin, and The Dewey Decimators kicked it off at noon. Simultaneously broadcasting up to four separate screens, the Tobins coordinated with John Heid on bass and Julie Mulcahy on drums. Their set included the premier of their light-spirited new tune written by James, “The Self-Isolation Blues.”
Tobin sang, “Nothing to do. Nothing to say. Looks like we’re gonna be here all day, and that’s alright, alright, alright. We’ll be alone. All by ourselves. Six feet away from everyone else, and that’s alright, alright, alright. We got the self-isolation blues.”
At 2 p.m., Holly Mathias strummed her guitar and sang. At 4 Meg Smith streamed; and at 6 p.m. viewers could sing along with Leanne Regalla.
Mulcahy, who is also the library’s director, said it has had Monday music since 2014. Typically, however, the musicians play on the library’s front porch from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. from June to October.
Sunday night, she and musicians started texting each other about doing it virtually.
It’s something the library can do for patrons, Mulcahy said. She’s working on possibly coordinating something similar for a library needleworking group. “We’re keeping patrons connected,” she said.
“If anyone is interested in future Music Mondays (in-person or virtual) please send us a message,” Mulcahy wrote on the library’s Facebook page.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for something to watch, check them out:
Wende Dikec of Brighton Township wears many hats: Wife; mom of three sons, two of whom are in college; blogger for her dog Capone; Beaver Area School Board member; and published author of young-adult novels, as well as women’s fiction under the pen name Abigail Drake. She’s taught a variety of creative writing classes at several local libraries.
She submitted the following to our Chronicles to explain how creative writing might help your children at this stressful time.
Jennifer Cribbs, the children’s librarian at the Beaver Area Memorial Library, has always made an effort to provide outstanding and unusual programs for the youngest members of our community. As a writer, I’ve teamed up with Ms. Cribbs on a regular basis to teach creative writing to middle and high school students. These lessons provide a much-needed outlet for aspiring writers, but during times like these, they provide something else as well.
Writing fiction can give children a vehicle for dealing with fear and uncertainty. It empowers them, because when they create a fictional story, they are in charge, and they can determine the outcome. Unlike journaling, which is also a useful tool, the story isn’t real. Because of this, children feel safe about expressing their worries, and can put on paper things they might not be able to vocalize.
For this reason, Ms. Cribbs and I are joining together to provide online weekly writing classes designed for children aged 10 and up. The lessons will start on Monday.
Our local libraries are doing their best to offer options to help everyone during this difficult and stressful period. The county librarians met on Monday to strategize. Right now, county residents can sign up for a temporary library card, which will enable them to access an abundance of e-resources. Funds are being added to purchase e-books, and many libraries (Aliquippa, Chippewa, and Baden) are stocking nearby Little Free Libraries.
Recently, the Beaver Library provided 370 children’s books via Frye Transportation for the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department free lunch site. Other libraries are also working on creative ways of meeting community needs, including finding ways to get print books in the hands of people of all ages. For the librarians, it’s a labor of love.
According to Ms. Cribbs, “Many of us are now at home and using technology in ways we never expected. We’re working from home, schooling from home, and attempting to stay connected with our loved ones. The library is here to support the community in all of these endeavors. We’re overcoming obstacles, tackling projects, and providing resources in ways we never imagined.”
For more information about the online writing program for children, please contact Jennifer Cribbs at the Beaver Area Memorial Library (firstname.lastname@example.org). Information on all the programs our local libraries offer can also be found via the county library website (www.beaverlibraries.org).
Editor’s Note: CLICK HERE TO SEND YOUR OWN STORY TO BEAVERCOUNTIAN.COM