Messages of Hope

As we continue to adapt to life in “the new normal,” it is important to remember that the situation will not last forever and we are all in this together. Everyone has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic on a global, national, and community level. We have also all be affected as people. There is boredom, uncertainty, and concern, but we must remember that there is also hope. We will all get through this by taking it one day at a time.

Here at The Pawling Record, we intend to continue publishing throughout the pandemic. For this issue I reached out to a number of people from across the community, including representatives from our schools, businesses, and local governments, and provided them with a simple questionnaire about how the pandemic has affected their lives. This will not only give everyone a chance to provide valuable updates to our readers, but also serve to reaffirm that we are all dealing with the same unfortunate situation.

We intend to continue with this feature for as long as the quarantine restrictions continue, and I invite all of our readers to participate. Please read the responses in the following article and feel free to provide updates on your business or organization, as well as your own experiences, recommendations, and words of encouragement for our community. We will be accepting your answers by email at Everyone be safe, be kind, and hang in there!

Tom Walogorsky

Editor, The Pawling Record

Kim Fontana – Superintendent for Pawling Central School District

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

It’s a pleasure to be asked by the Pawling Record to share some of what’s been going on in our schools. For me personally, the quarantine means that even though I go to work every day, I wear blue jeans a lot and take extra pains to wash up as soon as I reenter my house. Most meetings are held virtually and we are operating with a small staff whom I see most every day. Our custodial staff continues to keep our buildings spotless with a focus on transportation, the kitchens where we prepare schools meals, and the district office. All instructional staff and many secretaries and administrators are working mostly from home. Our food service and transportation staff are busy preparing school meals and about a dozen staff members, teachers, aides, monitors, administrators, etc. come in each day to assist with meal delivery along with our transportation and food service staff.

How will the school district move forward as this situation continues?

For our students and their parents, the quarantine has meant a host of new challenges. While thanks to community support we are able to connect with every student and teacher through the Internet, it is still very hard on families who sometimes are working at home for the first time to also be helping to direct their children’s education. Learning online is much easier for some students than others, too, so our teaching staff is working to use their time to reach out to individual students who are struggling more. I am truly impressed with the creativity and caring of the teachers, although of course I am not surprised. I worry most that everyone’s energy will flag. Educators got into this line of work because they like people and especially like children. It’s hard for them to have those relationships mediated by a screen.

We are lucky to have been able to partner with Stages and Camp Herrlich to help facilitate childcare arrangements for our healthcare workers and first responders. I am grateful to them and to all the community organizations in Pawling, as well as town and village government, for their partnership in this difficult time.

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

I have found that gardening and getting outside in general is a good antidote to the many hours behind a screen. Nature has a way of reminding us that there is a cycle of growth, hope, and renewal. That’s how I am currently investing what free time I have.

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

Our staff has been sharing many exceptional resources and it’s really inspiring to see our collective intelligence and capacity grow. All I think I can add is that I do believe that it is times like these, and how we comport ourselves through them, that define us as a society. Let compassion and caring be our touchstones.

Brian Avery - Director at the Pawling Library and Deacon at Journey of Hope Fellowship Church

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

As much as the introvert in me is reveling in the solitude and the chance to catch up on my reading, this is a somber and uncertain time. My prayer is that this time would be one of productive reflection for me, for the library and our other public institutions, and for our society as a whole, so that we can move forward with greater compassion and wisdom in the weeks and months ahead.

How will the Pawling Library move forward as this situation continues?

Closing the library to the public was a huge step that I wish we didn’t have to do. Thankfully, we offer a lot of downloadable and streaming content to all Pawling residents who have library cards (and we accept online card registration!). We are pivoting to online programming, with everything from story time to yoga classes happening online. We are looking forward to whenever we are able to re-open the library so that we can offer access to in-person services and technology again.

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

One of my all-time favorite novels is Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. Booksellers are reporting that purchases of great books are way up during the quarantine, so now is a great time to read this epic novel with one of the greatest female characters in the history of Western literature. The book concludes at the time of the Black Death, which we are all hoping is not too apropos of our own time!

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

“Doubtless a great anguish may do the work of years, and we may come out from that baptism of fire with a soul full of new awe and new pity.” Adam Bede, George Eliot

John Ragusa - Owner of The Imperial Castle Toy Shop, Board Member of the Pawling Chamber of Commerce

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

The Coronavirus has impacted me on both a personal and professional level. We’ve been forced to shut our doors, which I do support and understand, and that has severely impacted us. We are still fulfilling online orders, and offering a hands free delivery, but even with these methods it’s a major change. More importantly, my wife is a nurse and is literally in harm’s way. It’s nerve wracking, much as I try to not seem worried. She is a hero, along with everyone who runs head first into this.

How will your business move forward as this situation continues?

Once the quarantine is lifted we’ll go back to normal business hopefully. We have found some things that have worked in a modified environment and others that haven’t. So we may incorporate certain things (like curbside drop-off) into our routine.

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

As a sci-fi fan I always recommend sitting down with the entire Star Wars series. Start at Episode 1 and move through. Firefly was an amazing show that can be found online as well. If you want to laugh, check out anything from Mystery Science Theater 3000!!

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

I was having a conversation with one of my kids and said that this quarantine period is going to be a reflection of who you are and how you interpret what is happening. If you see this as a punishment, you will not do well. If you see this as a good time to read, talk with family and friends, and know that you’re actively protecting yourself then you’ll get through it. Everyone needs to see this as what it is, an amazingly proactive step that is and will continue to save lives.

Lastly, stay indoors. Do not go out unless you have to and please wash your hands and social distance when you do. This will never end if people simply don’t follow the rules. I wish everyone the very best!

Terry Ariano - Director of the Pawling Resource Center

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

At work, everything we do at the Pawling Resource Center is now focused on getting food to people who need it or can’t do food shopping on their own.

At home, it has limited my contact with family and friends.

How will the Resource Center move forward as this situation continues?

The Pawling Resource Center is adapting to this new situation. Many volunteers and donors are generously contributing their time, food or resources. We are going through our stock of food like I’ve never seen before, but so far are keeping pace by making extra purchases, and with donations from the community.

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

Right now I’m reading Paul McCartney, A Life to relax and tune out. I also get out and walk in a natural area whenever I can.

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

This crisis gives us a time to slow down, and to learn what is most important in living. We can focus more on the positive relationships with our family and friends, turn inward and learn more about ourselves, appreciate silence, nature, and focus on healing ourselves. The generosity and compassion I see in all of the outpouring of support and concern for others in the community is very heartening. Stay positive!

Robert Liffland - Mayor of Pawling

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

It has obviously curtailed my social and business life but I am happy to comply with this in order to protect the residents of Pawling. The safety and well-being of my neighbors is paramount and I am willing to do whatever is necessary to flatten the curve of this pandemic.

How will the Village of Pawling move forward as this situation continues?

The village will continue to operate within the guidelines of federal, state and county mandates. We are also working in conjunction with the town, school and county to assist the residents of Pawling during this difficult time.

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

Get outside if possible, take a walk, go fishing. My book recommendation would be the Bible. Pray and keep the faith.

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

Follow the guidelines, help out wherever you can, practice social distancing and stay Pawling Positive and Strong.

Lauren Radicchi - Junior at Pawling High School

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

This whole quarantine has completely changed school for me and my sister, who also goes to Pawling. We both do school through Google Classroom, where our teachers give up assignments each day. It’s been difficult for both of us to complete the same amount of work we get at school with all the distractions of being at home, but we’ve been managing so far. At first we were only supposed to be out of school for two weeks, but now we’re closed until April 14th. Many people who I have spoken to, family and otherwise, think it will go on even longer. Beyond school, my whole family is home right now, which has been both good and bad. We all have a little bit of cabin fever, so we’re all very bored most nights and on weekends, but we’re together, so we find things to do, like watch movies or bake. It’s definitely brought us closer.

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

To pass the time I highly recommend a show I like on Netflix. It’s called Explained, it’s an anthology about different topics, explaining everything about them from their history to their future. It’s a great way to learn new things about topics you never would have thought to learn about before, from pirates to pandemics to why diets fail.

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

This pandemic may feel overwhelming, but remember that it’s gonna be okay, and don’t forget to stay inside.

Maggie Kelly - Customer Service Manager at Connected Consumer Fuel

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

Before quarantine, I was taking yoga classes in studio 3-5 times a week and really hitting some great personal milestones. Since quarantine, I’ve been practicing in home, through virtual/online classes, which is not the same and hard to motivate to do, but I’m trying. There is more time to clean my apartment during the week at least, between phone calls while working from home. Which I feel has freed up a good portion of my weekends that used to be spent cleaning and doing chores. I’m also finding the lack of social obligations on the weekends to be comforting and freeing, allowing more time spent with my very tall, very handsome, very smart fiancé. We’ve been exploring our new neighborhood in the Hudson Valley which has TONS of awesome local hiking trails and even a rail trail half a mile from our apartment. I’ve been on the same tank of gas for about 2 weeks now, however, I’ve always enjoyed a wandering, aimless drive so I’ve been using that to “get out of the house” from time to time. Found some pretty amazing scenic views too, all from the health & safety of my own car. I’ve appreciated the slower pace of life this quarantine has demanded.

How will your company move forward as this situation continues?

For now, our small company is working from home. Luckily, this is our slow season moving out of winter. I was able to boost our production schedule in the weeks before our company enacted WFH, which has allowed us to continue shipping product through this. Within the coming weeks, I will go in for a few days to run more production. Luckily, being a small company, and everyone else working from home, I will be the only person in the office at that time, staying safe and practicing social distancing. Although I do miss my staff!

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might help everyone pass the time?

Currently, I’m binge watching Criminal Minds on Netflix. The Office is turned on at least once a day, even if just background. Law & Order SVU is on Hulu. However, I’ve been trying to stay away from mindlessly numbing television to pass the time. I’ve been starting my day reading a few chapters from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Helping to avoid scrolling social media all day and being constantly bombarded with some really heartbreaking news of the world these days has been incredibly important for my mental psyche during this. I’m fairly novice to crochet, but it’s an enjoyable way to pass the time and (if I finish) I end up with a great scarf!

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone in these difficult times!

Enjoy the rare availability of these moments of family time. Most of us spend 40 hours a week with co-workers, with commutes and time for sleep, that leaves us roughly 72 hours during the week for family. I think it’s a blessing if you’re now able to re-invest some of those 40 hours with family. Hugs! I miss hugging my MOM! While social distancing, I’ve only visited my parents for laundry and kept my 6-foot distance. They’re both in their 70’s, healthy, but its important they stay healthy. But I REALLY miss a good, long hug from mom or dad. A 20 second hug can increase levels of oxytocin (the love hormone), reduce blood pressure and cortisol (the stress hormone), increase happiness, lower stress, improve relationships and connection. So if you’re able to, HUG the loved ones you live with. Hug long, and often. Remember, this is temporary and it is okay to not be as productive as you usually are. Keep your mental health in check. Check on friends and neighbors often and with love. Get out and get some sunshine! Vitamin D is important to physical health as well as mental health. And if you’re having trouble, ask for help.

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

-Ram Dass

Jessica Dickinson - Recreation Director for the Town of Pawling.

How has the Coronavirus quarantine affected your life?

Coronavirus has impacted ‘life as I know it’ 100%. As a working parent, I was always on the go between my own job to my children’s activities: school, sports, dance, you name it - we hustled all over town like many other parents do! I now find my time hustling in other categories - homeschooling, cooking, working from home, attending webinars, housework, diving into online classes, zoom meetings…everything has collided and most things are being done remotely or virtually. The upside to that is the blessing of having a lot of valuable time with my kids, which can never be replaced and they will never forget! Even during the stressful moments, I will always be grateful for that.

How will the Recreation Department move forward as this situation continues?

Everything must be executed differently with the Town of Pawling Recreation Department. We have canceled all of our programs, activities, and events until further notice. It’s honestly very painful to see so much hard work be pushed aside. But this is what we do. We face challenges every day. And our job is to serve YOU, our community, not ourselves. My main goal since Day One on the job here in Pawling has been for our Recreation Department to be a reflection of this particular community. Things have changed. And that’s okay. It’s the necessary work that we do in the field of Parks & Recreation.

We are morphing into this ‘new normal’ with you. So far, we’ve jumped in quickly - our Rec Team executed a virtual Facebook event for St. Patty’s Day when all of the closings and event cancelationsfirst began. We have been posting daily “Pawling Rec Challenges” on socialmedia in hopes you try some ideas at home and engage with us.

Instead of the traditional “Egg Hunt” this year, we offered families the chance to pick up our carefully-created “Egg Hunt Kits To-Go” curbside from Lakeside Park so children can still experience an egg hunt on the home front, encouraging everyone to share cute pictures and videos of their own Egg Hunt event on social media.

Our Recreation office is working together remotely and we chat constantly. We meet often via Zoom during the week, update each other, and create new goals. It’s a new and unique way of working! We are all opening ourselves up to taking on new challenges and thinking outside the box.

The future of our programming remains a fluid topic each day. As we look ahead, planning and managing waterfront and summer camp operations will remain on course. Many worry about “what will happen” and those are normal thoughts in such an uncertain time. We remain hopeful, steadfast, and AMPED FOR CAMP, no matter what. To ease some financial burden, we’ve made the decision to accept camp registration on a “Register Now, Pay Later” model. Kids will need camp more than ever this year.

My biggest takeaway is that it’s ALL STILL POSSIBLE. Connecting with community, planning programs, organizing events, tackling projects, working daily with an amazing team, meeting new people, and making new partnerships can happen in different ways if we are all willing to grow and step outside our comfort zones.

For more information about Pawing Recreation’s “virtual” opportunities, ways to stay connected, or to provide a camp scholarship for a child this summer, please visit or email

Can you recommend a book, movie, television show, or hobby that might

help everyone pass the time?

A must-read is The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker. At the beginning of March, I had the opportunity to attend the Tri-State Camp Conference and hear Ms. Parker give a keynote speech on WHY we gather as a culture. This is such an interesting, timely topic to dissect and at a time in our world when “gathering” itself is prohibited, I’m excited to read her book with full appreciation and a purposeful intention for when, with whom, and why we choose to gather in the future.

A must-watch is Parks and Recreation, the T.V. series starring my fictional all-time hero, Leslie Knope! There is more to meets the eye behind any Parks and Recreation Department and this show captures it with comedy - there’s no better way! If you’re home and haven’t heard of this show…you have my permission to binge.

A must-do is enjoy the outdoors safely and solitarily. It’s very important to not only practice safe social distancing, but exercise your mental health with a much needed and undervalued breath of fresh air. We are so lucky to have tons of open space at Murrow and Lakeside Park here in Pawling. Soaking in the quiet, noticing small sounds coming from the forest, and practicing gratitude for your place in this whole, huge world are very healthy moments to cherish.

Please provide some encouraging words to our readers to help everyone

in these difficult times!

Some of the most encouraging advice I’ve received is that there is no “right way” to manage your household in a crisis. Every single person, family dynamic, and social structure is unique and it has shifted. Many people I know have been charged with a variety of tasks: to juggle working from home and be the teacher, chef, recreation staff, housekeeper, and operations manager for something they’ve previously been able to delegate or compartmentalize into many facets of their day.

It’s so important to realize that we’ve been given a certain gift in the strangest of ways. After an uncomfortable quarantine, we can look at each moment and person differently. We now have the opportunity to slow down. We can embrace a deep appreciation for people’s strengths: classroom teachers, healthcare professionals, stay-at-home parents, grocery store cashiers, the delivery person - no matter what industry and in all walks of life. With this gift, the world can be a better place for all of us if we choose to see strengths instead of allowing our judgments to define and divide us. Life is how we choose to see it. Let's focus on the gift.