Frankly, we weren’t going to publish. This coronavirus crisis is too crazy/awful/unwieldy to even begin to unpack. Plus, we weren’t sure how to handle our loyal advertisers, who have enough bills to worry about these days.
But we’ve been monitoring the Main Line’s New Normal. And while plenty about it stinks, there’s good news worth sharing.
So we’re going ahead. You’ll see our advertisers’ banners and hear some of their corona-coping stories but they won’t be billed. It’s the least we can do.
And because the world is topsy-turvy, we’re following suit. We begin this issue where we usually end with…
This ‘N’ That (Pandemic edition)
Goes without saying, perhaps, but that Main Line event you look forward to each spring? It ain’t happening.
No Rev Run through Valley Forge Park April 16, no Wheels of Wayne car show on April 26, no Radnor Hunt Races on May 16, no Devon Horse Show May 21- May 31. The other biggie on the calendar, the June 13 Wayne Music Festival, is still on – but that may change, says founder Ken Kearns.
While some are clamoring for online festivities and fundraisers for the Devon Horse Show Foundation and beneficiary Byn Mawr Hospital – virtual hat contest, anyone? – the show’s organizers tell us there’s nothing to announce yet. They’re still figuring things out. Of course they are. This is show’s first cancellation since World War II.
Essential info: the best websites for local stats and gorgeous views of the flattening curve on the horizon. In Chester County, the Covid-19 Dashboard has updated case counts divided by township, age group and gender. No surprise that the county’s most populous municipality, Tredyffrin, has had the most cases. Neighboring Easttown is second. Interestingly, Chesco’s highest incidence is in the 50 to 59 age group, and it’s a nearly even split between men and women. The county’s positive cases more than doubled from April 1 to April 9, with nine total deaths in 489 cases.
Montgomery County’s incidence rate is more than three times Chester County’s. Here’s where to check Montco stats – just be sure to scroll down for the helpful maps and graphs. Unfortunately, Lower Merion continues to lead all Montco municipalities. Springfield reports the most Montco deaths, with 11.
Side note: Who knew Montco Board of Commissioners Chair Val Arkoosh would become our Tony Fauci, a covidebrity? A physician with a public health pedigree, Arkoosh has been the calm face of Montgomery County’s reasoned crisis response and regular press briefings from Day One.
Delaware County’s map shows faster growth than Montco and Chesco, with most cases in the 50 to 59 age group. As we write, Radnor has had 34 cases and zero deaths and Haverford Township has had 70 cases and no deaths.
For a look at all suburban Covid-19stats, check out Berwyn mom Bridgid Burkert’s nifty compilation.
Chester County is the first county in PA to begin pin-prick antibody testing of its first responders, healthcare, nursing-home and prison staff. In fifteen minutes, the test shows who has developed Covid-19 antibodies and, so, presumably, has had the illness. Results will help officials decide who can safely go back to work when that day comes. Many believe antibody tests will eventually help other industries make similar decisions.
No rooms at the inn. While the area’s chain hotels are limping along without business travelers, fitness rooms and food service, the Main Line’s three locally-owned inns, The Wayne Hotel, The Radnor Hotel and the Inn at Villanova University threw in the towel in late March. Wayne and Radnor are dark “until further notice,” The Inn at Villanova, through at least May 10. Although the Inn, newly renovated with fab outdoor space, tells us it’s ready to host your special event if your current venue can’t fit you in later.
Radnor Township is giving folks a break. Commissioners voted on March 25 to extend the deadlines for discounted property taxes to April 30 and face amount payments to June 30. Radnor is also talking about giving businesses four more months – until Sept. 15 – to pay business & mercantile taxes and may cut estimated payments by up to 50 percent.
With rents going unpaid, at least one Main Line landlord is sounding forgiving. (Others have yet to respond to our emails.) “We are in this together so we are making provisions for deferred and reduced rents and extended grace periods,” Eadeh Enterprises President Stacey Ballard tells SAVVY. Ballard says most of her tenants are small family businesses like Eadeh. “We’re taking it day by day because the changes just keep coming,” she says, but she hopes folks will “remember all these small businesses that have supported community baseball teams and fundraisers, employ our neighbors and make the fabric of our downtowns charming and wonderful places to shop and bring us all together.” In other words, buy gift cards, shop online and order takeout. Please.
Also whistling an upbeat tune, although guardedly: Main Line Chamber of Commerce President Bernard Deganais. “While business in April, and possibly May, will take a serious hit, there’s good reason to believe we will have the region up and running in June,” Deganais tells SAVVY. Still, he believes “many businesses won’t recover and employees will need to find new jobs” but says “there’s every reason to expect a strong and relatively fast recovery” once the health crisis has passed. To help “cut through the confusion” for local businesses, the Chamber has launched a COVID-19 Recovery Resources newsletter. Email [email protected] to get on the mailing list.
Running low on the hard stuff? Forget about making a run to Total Wine in Delaware. State troopers are stopping cars with PA plates in the parking lot and adjacent roads, warning them that if they want to buy liquor, they have to quarantine in the state for 14 days. (We do hear thirsty PA folks are turning to smaller liquor stores in DE.) Unlike PA, Delaware has kept its liquor stores open, deeming them essential businesses. Why? The governor reportedly fears that alcoholics in withdrawal might further tax Delaware hospitals, which might have their hands full.
PA state stores reopened for online sales last week. Good luck with that. Every time we logged on, the PA Fine Wine & Good Spirits store “was unavailable at this time” and we were advised to “please try again tomorrow or in the coming days.” If you do get through, no hoarding. Orders are capped at six bottles and one order per day. Blame social distancing – not bureaucratic incompetence – for the logjam. PA says it’s limiting employees in each location so it can fill only so many orders.
Bracing for an April without rent payments from mall stores and restaurants, Simon Property Group, owner of King of Prussia Mall, furloughed and laid off at least 30 percent of its national workforce, CNBC reported.
The Main Line’s libraries have swiftly embraced our new virtual reality with Facebook and Instagram Live Story Times and crafts, new Facebook groups, Zoom book talks and language-learning webinars. Tredyffrin Library is even hosting team trivia nights.
Naturally, hordes of patrons are learning how to check out titles with Overdrive and Hoopla. Radnor Memorial Library has doubled the number of e-books you can check out from 6 to 12.
“While we firmly believe that libraries are much more than books, we know that this time at home is the perfect time to curl up with a book – even in digital form,” Radnor Memorial Library Exec. Director Anny Laepple tells SAVVY.
No library card? No sweat. Delaware County Libraries have issued more than 400 virtual cards and counting. Lower Merion Library System patrons can get instant digital cards online to download e-books and audiobooks from Overdrive.
Anyone else disgusted that Valley Forge Park had to close because some visitors weren’t, well, taking care of business – the Number Two kind – at home before they swarmed the place? Ew.
School’s out for spring … and now summer, too, in accordance with Governor Wolf’s order this week. In honor of the Spring Break that wasn’t, Lower Merion School District added a Staycation Adventure Club on its website with links to virtual escapes to Disney World rides museums, national parks and zoos. Anyone can join the club; no login needed.
Coming through in the crunch: T/E School District. This week, TESD staff delivered 5,200 meals to families. It’s also distributed more than 130 iPads to students who need them for distance learning. TESD’s Family Helpline has answered nearly 800 calls. And the T/E community has chipped in $9,500 in gift cards, cash and supplies to support families in need.
Bryn Mawr Film Institute just built a fifth theater and it couldn’t be more convenient. It’s in your home. BMFI’s new “Theatre 5” online film hub is streaming new releases for $12 (a portion goes back to BMFI) and offers virtual film studies at no charge.
Malvern’s People’s Light has cancelled the rest of its 2019-2020 season, including its summer programs. It also lost about $160K from its annual gala that was to have happened last week. In an attempt to recoup at least a portion of losses – about 90 percent of each production’s cost is incurred before the first curtain goes up – the theater is selling $35 tickets to a video of its spring show, Hold These Truths, through May 3.
With in-person programs verboten, Main Line School Night continues to add classes and workshops to its swelling online roster. From the comfort of your couch, you can learn everything from advanced guitar and smartphone photography to Mayan culture and website design.
Main Line Health is gathering info about how residents are handling the pandemic. Click here to take the confidential survey. C’mon, you’ve got the time.
There are five drive-thru Covid-19 testing sites in our area: Penn Medicine Radnor (shown below), Main Line Health in Radnor and Newtown Square, and PM Pediatrics in Tredyffrin.
Not sure if you should be tested? Or worried about another health issue? Devon entrepreneur Peter Hotz tells SAVVY his Vybe urgent care centers are offering secure video visits, which are covered by insurance (although some with a copay). Just have your insurance card, credit card and ID handy and log on here to get those good Vybe-rations started.
There’s drive-up medicine for pets now, too. At Hope Veterinary Hospital in Malvern, you call from the parking lot for emergency care (still available 24/7), ultrasounds, oncology or other appointments. A masked and gloved nurse comes out to escort Fido in and out of the building. You stay put. The vet phones you with the diagnosis and treatment plan. “Everyone’s working extra shifts and is exhausted but it’s great that we can continue to help everyone in need,” says Kim Champy, an HVP nurse.
RIP handshakes. When life resumes and the Main Line is back in business, we wonder what might change. Smaller workout classes? Fewer bar stools/tables/desks/seats? Sneeze guards everywhere? Mandatory masks in crowded spaces? Purell on every table? One local proprietor who’s thinking ahead: Mike DiDomenico, owner of Berwyn’s 30 Main, who says he’s planning to install eight cabanas for private, distance-dining outdoors.
Wayne Art Center postponed the start of spring classes from April until May 11. If they have to delay any later than May 11, the spring session will be cancelled. Summer Art Camp is set to begin June 1 – fingers crossed.
Fewer cures for cabin fever
Whither to roam? As a general rule, municipal parks, playgrounds and tennis courts are closed and trails are open. Exceptions: Haverford College’s Nature Trail and the Radnor Trail, which are both closed, and East Goshen Park, which remains open.
No strolling through Stoneleigh, either. The public garden in Villanova is off-limits until May 15. But if you’re up for a drive before your walk, 120 miles of wide trails at Natural Lands’ other preserves are open, although they’re reporting five times the normal usage. If the parking lot is full, come back later, urges Natural Lands’ Kristen Werner.
You can still hike around Ridley Creek State Park and boat or hike at Marsh Creek but BYOB (bring your own boat) and don’t overfill the bladder. Restrooms, rentals and amenities are all shuttered.
Valley Forge Park’s parking lots, internal roads and restrooms are off-limits but a smattering of local cyclists are still peddling in to use the trails.
The Chester Valley Trail, Cynwyd Trail and Schuylkill River Trail are open. But you can bet they’ll close if crowds get too thick and folks get too chummy.
And don’t even think about stretching your legs along the bucolic byways of Ardrossan. The former Montgomery/Scott dairy farm/estate has enlisted Radnor Police to help keep all non-Ardrossan homeowners off the property. “No public access is permitted at this time,” reads a notice put out by Radnor Township. (EDITOR’S UPDATE: A Radnor police officer is no longer patrolling Ardrossan Farms. Deployment of an off-duty Radnor officer, paid by the Ardrossan homeowner’s association, was discontinued last week.)
Also don’t bother walking the track or sneaking your kids in playgrounds at any T/E schools. All are closed and “security personnel are on site … and will be enforcing the closure,” TESD warns.
Stores full of clothes and nowhere to wear them
With inventory piling up and the spring shopping season slipping away, local boutiques are getting creative.
Instagram is everything and discounts are everywhere. See a look you like? Message, text or call the owner or your favorite stylist. Chances are she’ll pack it up and ship or deliver it to your door – for free.
Not sure? Try a no-strings-attached style box or schedule a virtual consult.
Maria Delany, owner of preppie-chic Louella boutiques in Wayne, Malvern and Avalon, is driving around the Main Line, making door drops herself. Scarves are selling especially well, she says, because customers use them as masks. Louella has also been running “extended store” discounted shopping with partner brands like Lisi Lerch and Jude Connally.
“Be on TOP of your game for those video conference calls,” urges ELLIE Main Line in Eagle Village Shops on Instagram, in a post showing a sprightly spring blouse. Owner Diane Oliva has marked all ELLIE items shown on Instagram 25 percent off with free doorstep delivery.
Sandy Edelstein at Grove 1.2.1 in Bryn Mawr is offering free masks with online purchases. “Get out of those sweats,” reads one of her frequent Instagram posts.
At Polka Dots in Paoli, longtime manager Karen Denney is modeling looks herself on social media. She also lets followers know when she’s in the store and can ship or deliver items pronto.
Meanwhile in Malvern, Posh Collections owner Tina Corrado says she’s “profoundly grateful” for customers’ response to her “quarantine services,” including no-obligation “Posh Concierge Boxes,” Instagram selling, virtual shopping appointments and, of course, gifts cards.
Maureen Doron at Skirt in Bryn Mawr is mailing out curated, no-obligation Style Boxes – try everything on at home and send all or some of the contents back for free.
In Suburban Square, Gilbert & Evans is delivering “Surprise Boxes” with contents always valued higher than your $75, $100, $150 or $200 investment.
A for Effort, retailers. But we’re still guessing we’ll see Spring 2020 merch in your stores in Spring 2021. For the record, we completely understand and won’t mind a bit.
‘Food it Forward’ campaign raises $40,000 for T/E and Radnor restaurants
Of all the good works out there, this one has really caught fire.
As it should. It’s a win-win-win.
Main Line Realtor, serial entrepreneur and former TV sports reporter, Leslie Gudel dreamed up a way to help struggling local restaurants AND people struggling for food during the Covid-19 crisis.
And with the help of 12 Facebook friends – Gudel calls them “rockstar women” – she made it happen.
Her bright idea: Get people to donate to “Food it Forward,” use the donations to buy gift cards to local restaurants, then donate those gift cards to food banks and first-line responders.
Everybody wins: cash-strapped restaurants, needy recipients, and donors who appreciate having a tax-deductible, contact-free way to lend a hand.
Gudel was able to launch the campaign quickly because donations funnel through the website she created for Kendall’s Crusade, the foundation she started to support people with AVMs, her daughter Kendall’s vascular-system defect.
Since Food it Forward launched in late March, Gudel and her merry band have been working like heck to get the word out via social media and news outlets. Gudel (below) even did a national TV segment with her onetime intern, Fox News anchor Jillian Mele.
Hard work paid off. To date, more than 500 folks have donated $40,000 in gift cards and counting, boosting the bottom lines of 39 restaurants in T/E and Radnor. (Donors can designate which restaurant they’d like to help.)
And giftcards totalling $40,000 are being dropped off at six local food banks, three fire companies and Paoli Hospital. The campaign is now focusing on food banks because their need is greater, Gudel says.
East Goshen liked the idea so much they’ve launched their own Food it Forward campaign and Great Valley is planning to do the same. How ’bout it, Lower Merion?
Click here to donate to Food it Forward T/E and Radnor.
How are the Main Line’s small businesses holding up?
SAVVY advertisers run the gamut, so we put the question to some of them. Their answers were illuminating:
“Real estate is in a weird place,” says Realtor Sue MacNamara. “We’re not considered ‘essential’ and yet people need a roof over their heads, right?…No one is allowed to show a home even if it’s vacant. It’s killing me because I love what I do and miss the crazy, breathless time of the spring market.”
Agents have gotten creative, she says with virtual showings and open houses and Facebook Live walk-throughs. But inspections can’t happen until the ban is lifted, she says. Her take on the mortgage market: “Lenders are still out there. Refis have almost come to a halt. Jumbo loans are hard to get and your credit better be great.”
One local food advertiser is still humming along: Homecooked in Paoli, which, lucky for them, has always been an all-takeout or home-delivery service. “We’ve been grateful to be in business … so we definitely wanted to pay it forward,” says owner Claire Guarino. Homecooked has dropped off meals and snacks to Paoli Fire Company and to T & E Care. Guarino is also planning to donate to Phoenixiville Community Education Foundation’s food distribution program.
With graduation parties on pause and spring weddings postponed, invitation design-and-print firm Kramer Drive in Berwyn has taken a huge hit. “For a small business to lose nearly all revenue for several months could be devastating,” writes co-owner Meg Robertson. “We know that we are a tiny ripple in a giant wave. Our hearts are with all those affected by this pandemic.” On Kramer Drive’s plate of late: creating “I Do Redo” cards for rescheduled weddings and playing Easter Bunny. Kramer delivered filled baskets to T/E and Radnor families in nondescript boxes. Shhhh.
Uneasy times for replacement window and door installer Austin Hepburn who reports that his “biggest projects are at a standstill with windows sitting in garages due customer concern.” Job One for Hepburn has been finding work for the half dozen men who work for him. “By passing around small repair and make-work projects, I am keeping my nucleus of carpenters and laborers together.”
Hepburn applied for and received a waiver from the state to operate as an “essential business” because “people need functioning doors and windows to stay secure in their homes.” He’s also applied for a CARES Act federal loan and is helping other contractors do the same. “Some are despondent. Others are stoic.” For now, Hepburn tells us he’s focused on keeping his family healthy, his workers busy, and his spirits sunny.
Also hard hit: Campli Photography in Malvern. “Wedding have been the biggest heartbreak and nightmare,” says David Campli. “I feel terrible for these families.” While May dates have all been cancelled, June weddings are still scheduled but have “soft hold” alternative dates, just in case. Campli has devised a cool Google Doc system to help brides reserve new dates. With high schools closed until fall, his senior portrait business is “up in the air.” His corporate client work – headshots and business events – has crumbled completely, while regular portrait bookings are “limping along,” he says.
When standardized tests were cancelled through May, Crimson Review pressed pause. This week the test-prep company, with centers in Wayne and Malvern, unfurled flexible, affordable virtual programs for the June SAT. Students can choose either Sunday afternoons, April 19 – May 30, or weekdays, April 20 – June 4. Tuition includes group classes and assignments plus three one-to-one sessions. Even better: For each registered student, Crimson Review will donate $100 to Chester County Food Bank and the food pantry at Wayne United Methodist Church.
Day Spa by Zsuzsanna in Wayne is, of course, closed but is offering free shipment of its many skincare goodies, spa gifts and loungewear – many at discounted prices. See our story above about Main Line fashion boutiques for the scoop on how ELLIE Main Line and Louella are working hard to move merchandise. Hint: discounts and free delivery. Fashion Xchange in Paoli is closed but posts a steady stream of its upscale resale styles on Instagram to entice shoppers when doors reopen.
As an “essential” healthcare provider, Restore Chiropractic and Cryosauna in Wayne is open with limited staff, reports Dr. Danielle Gray who specializes in upper cervical care. “We are working hard to help keep people healthy and out of Urgent Care facilities and the ER,” says Gray, who posts coronavirus information online and via regular newsletters. “We’re trying to educate patients about the need to be calm and in control of their own health.”
Strafford Chiropractic & Healing Center is now open for emergency care and pain management – in person or by telemedicine. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Jenn Hartmann, email [email protected]. You can also support Strafford and its new sister location, CryoSculptRevive in Paoli (which is completely closed) by ordering gift cards (discounted 20% ), vitamins, supplements, skincare products and immune-boosting IVtoGo online. Email for curbside pickup, shipping or delivery.
Closed since March 13, acupuncture and healing arts center Village Wellness in Berwyn is doing what it can to “support our community” with reduced rates for online services and telemedicine appointments, sliding-scale payments (starting at $1 for live online classes), and free online weekly meditation circles. Still, you can’t get acupuncture on the Internet. “It’s been a financial challenge to the team but we are hopeful and have worked really hard to get our online services up and running,” says Village Wellness’ always-upbeat owner Lance Isakov.
Another in-person practitioner, Your Organizing Consultants, has mostly pressed pause. “We can’t work right now,” says owner Anna Sicalides, whose team keeps homes and offices shipshape. She is, however, offering virtual consults to clients who are adept with technology and don’t mind doing the tossing, bagging and filing themselves. Sicalides says she’s also been working on “back-end stuff…I’m trying to keep my employees on the payroll so we can benefit from some government help.” When this is over, she’s hoping there’s a pent-up demand for her services. “We hope there are a lot of unfinished projects out there, that the moms who’ve been homeschooling are craving a reset and realtors listing houses need our help!”
While he can’t perform elective procedures, Brannon Claytor of Claytor Noone Plastic Surgery is still plenty busy. A physician scientist, he just filed a patent for a potential treatment modality for Covid-19. He still sees patients for post-op suture removal and follow-up in his Bryn Mawr office. But all new patients are seen through telemedicine, which he calls “a real opportunity to educate them about different cosmetic options.” A shutdown silver lining: Patients have extra time to weigh their options. Claytor has also been on call for pediatric emergencies in Bryn Mawr Hospital’s bustling ER, handling dog bites, lacerations and sports injuries.
While its live classes in Wayne and Berwyn are, of course, suspended, Mojo Fitness’ popular dance-fitness workouts have been online for years. (Talk about prescient.) For just $10/month, Mojo Online subscribers get unlimited access to a wide library of routines, mini-sessions and tutorials. On Saturday, creator/instructor Cindy Brauer livestreamed her first class – from her Malvern basement, with more Saturdays to come.
Mason Grey Interiors is biding its time in Newtown Square. “I’m very lucky that I don’t have the garages or basements full of inventory,” owner Maureen Block tells us. “And my items aren’t seasonal.” The home décor emporium is posting some merch on social media – she doesn’t want to come off as “insensitive trying to sell accessories during this time.” She thought about online sales and delivery but that might bring its own challenges. “If the pieces don’t work, I need to pick them up, wipe everything down, etc. I’m not sure it’s worth it,” Block says. For now, she tells us she’s “laying low” and “looking for new items for summer so I can support my vendors.”
Walter J. Cook Jeweler in Paoli is closed but owner Michael J. Cook can handle jewelry emergencies and will arrange for “absolutely necessary” pickups. Email your request to [email protected] and he’ll do his best to accommodate.
Random acts of #coronakindness
A stirring salute to heroes in Bryn Mawr. About a hundred Lower Merion and Radnor police, firefighters and EMTs lined the entrance to Bryn Mawr Hospital Wednesday night (above), applauding healthcare workers as they arrived for their shifts. ER nurse Joanne Brunke told 6ABC the surprise nearly brought her to tears.
Aneu has a new mission: feeding the front lines. Instead of driving to hungry homes and businesses, the Paoli caterer’s truck has been out delivering surprise lunches to healthcare heroes in hospitals. One day, it’s a unit at Einstein, Eagleview or Bryn Mawr, another day, a floor at HUP, Jefferson or the ER at Paoli Hospital (below).
For every $100 customers spend on takeout or delivery, Aneu chips in $10 toward its meal giveaway. “But people are offering to donate more,” says owner Meridith Coyle. “They’re giving us $100, $1000 at a time.” Word really got around after Mark Cuban tweeted about Aneu’s efforts.
“Everyone thinks I’m a hard ass but I’m really a softie,” says Coyle. “I was a social worker before I got into this business. That’s my calling but I couldn’t make money doing that. I always promised when I made enough money I’d give it back.”
With her catering business on hold, Coyle had to lay off about 50 staffers but says she’s grateful that serving takeout and feeding hospitals is keeping about seven people on the job.
Want to help feed first responders and healthcare workers? Take a number. So many people want to feed staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital and Lankenau, do-gooders are now asked to sign up online, picking a specific hospital unit at a specific time. Essential workers like fire companies and post offices have also seen a steady stream of meals and goodies. Some are booking donated meals a week out.
Villanova U. is getting in the ventilator business. Living up to its slogan: Ignite change. Go Nova, the university’s engineering faculty is working with industry and medical professionals and nursing school grad students to design a low-cost ventilator to address the shortage. Using readily available parts, they hope to have a prototype ready in the next week or so.
Nova has also emptied its closets to outfit frontline workers at Main Line Health and Philadelphia-area hospitals. Donated to date: 30,000 plastic gloves, 600 safety goggles and glasses, sanitizing wipes, face shields, hazmat suits and disposable lab coats. A nice touch: The University donated tulips from its campus garden to health care workers at Main Line Health.
Harcum College in Bryn Mawr diverted thousands of pieces of PPE from its health-professions programs to Einstein Healthcare Network after Einstein asked for help.
Now that we need masks, we wish we’d paid more attention in Home Ec. Tailors, drapery workrooms, fashion designers and home sewers are all aiding the war effort:
- The Days for Girls team, led by Leslie Roy of Wayne, makes sanitary kits for under-served women and girls around the globe. These days, her group is sewing masks and donating them to people working the front lines here at home.
- Christine Shirley Sewing & Design Studio in Wayne and its “satellite sewists” are churning out hundreds of colorful re-usable masks for online purchase with an option to donate to hospital workers. (The tiny sewing studio was just featured in an article about where to buy masks on GQ.com.)
- Bryn Mawr fashion designer Maryann Boston Reh’s Black Button Workshop is also making and donating masks to those in need. No doubt they’re as minimalist chic as her other designs.
- Instead of custom bridal gowns, Ardmore’s Janice Martin Couture is creating face masks from cool fabrics.
- Heather King of Argyle in Haverford has also diverted her creative talents from flower arranging to face masks.
- Project Runway Runner Up Nancy Volpe-Beringer is stitching masks and donating them to frontliners. Count on fashion-forward face-wear from this outsize talent.
- Buy a $10 mask from Barbara Flynn Fabric Works in West Chester and she’ll donate $5 to feed disadvantaged people in North Philly through Operation Kensington Cares.
- Narberth’s Handworks Studio is also stitching masks and posting no-sew face mask instructions on Facebook.
- More than 1,000 Philly area nursing and medical students have united as Medical Students for Masks, among them Wayne native and 3rd year PCOM student Liz Brehman. The group is soliciting donations to source, buy and distribute PPE to local healthcare professionals. At press time, the group had raised more than $43K of its $50K goal and was assessing needs at Lankenau, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Narberth Ambulance and city hospitals.
Worried that cloth masks won’t protect people on the front line? So was Rene Schleicher, owner of the Fabric Shield. Until a lightbulb went off and she realized her oil-based formula causes droplets from sneezes and coughs to bead up on the surface rather than penetrate fabrics. She’s now out spraying masks for first responders – for free.
Schleicher invites anyone making 20 or more masks for frontline workers in the Main Line/Chesco area to contact [email protected] for spraying,
Now that’s what we call tikkun olam. Volunteers at Kohelet Yeshiva High School in Merion are partnering with Lower Merion School District to make protective face shields for frontline medical personnel using 3D printers. Kohelet is accepting donations for the project on its website. Meanwhile, Episcopal Academy freshman Louie Beardell is running a mini face-shield factory in his family’s basement, using his own and EA’s 3D printers. He told the Inquirer he hopes to make 1,000 face shields a week for local healthcare workers.
Parishioners at local Episcopal churches – St. David’s in Wayne, St. Christopher’s in Gladwyne and St. Alban’s in Newtown Square – are pitching in to help poverty-challenged families in Northwest Philly. They’re collecting food and donations on behalf of St. James School, the city’s only Episcopal school. St. James is feeding 250 neighborhood families each day including breakfast, a hot lunch and groceries for dinner.
New heroes in the corona war: supermarket employees. Haverford realtor Lisa Monaco tells us she’s been raising money to bring surprise lunches to Acme and Giant employees. “My husband and I felt bad for them as they are out there facing the public every day and usually for minimum wage.”
Ardmore Initiative just launched Rally for Restaurants and Retail. Buy $25 or more in gift cards, takeout or online merch from downtown merchants, snap a pic of your receipt and send to [email protected] to be entered in a drawing for up to $500 in gift cards. Winners TBA on social media every Sunday in April.
With so many Easter/Passover flowers going unclaimed, SageLife bought truckloads of arrangements and presented them to residents of Daylesford Crossing in Paoli, Echo Lake at Atwater in Malvern and other senior living centers in the area. After the holiday, perennials will be planted in a special garden on each property. When they bloom each year, they’ll remind residents of how the community pulled together to weather this storm, a Sage spokesman tells SAVVY.
Also saying it with flowers: the Djamooses in Malvern. Melissa Djamoos tells us her family brainstormed ways to “support small businesses and brighten someone’s day.” Their solution: buy flower arrangements from Berwyn’s StudioFlora and, on the first day of spring, drop them off at doorsteps in her neighborhood.
Little Nest Portraits in Malvern is running a buy one, give one promotion. Buy one gift card and Little Nest will donate a portrait session and 8 X 10 print to a healthcare worker.
Not everyone is enjoying Zoom happy hours. Plenty of folks are feeling lonely, anxious and depressed. Among those offering free and low-cost help:
- Radnor-based DMAX Foundation has retooled its April 16 education event to “Self-Esteem: Coping in Collective Isolation.” Of course, it’s now virtual.
- Therapist Matthew Gelber has been waiving his fee for no-contact counseling to those struggling with solitude.
- Main Line Family Education is offering free meetups for Moms (along with live, virtual classes).
- Bryn Mawr-based Minding Your Mind added a web page of virtual mental-health resources during Covid-19, including webinars to combat pandemic stress and links to free and pay-what-you-can depression/anxiety support, mindfulness and recovery apps.
A peach of a boss: Berwyn resident Stephen Doutwaite, founder of the KOP medical communications agency AlphaBioCom. Doutwaite is leading twice-daily meditation sessions for his team and sweetened paychecks with an extra $100, encouraging them to donate it to a food bank or use to ease their own anxiety.
Surrey steps up to serve homebound seniors
Its centers are closed, but Devon-based Surrey hasn’t slowed down a bit.
“We closed earlier than everyone else – we saw what was coming – and in a few days, we pivoted everything we did,” Surrey COO Christi Seidel tells SAVVY.
Programs, like a popular classical music classes, moved to YouTube. A Facebook group, The Surrey Session, is posting upbeat info. Support groups began gathering on Zoom. Despite their ages, “our people are figuring out the technology,” Seidel says.
Instead of driving seniors to the grocery store, volunteers are arranging for hot meal delivery or doing the shopping themselves. Transport is still available for “absolutely essential” appointments.
And meals served on-site have morphed into grab ‘n go lunches. Demand has exploded – from 12 takers in Devon on March 16 to 120 on April 7.
If the program keeps growing, Seidel worries about its long-term viability. Underwritten by a benefactor, grab ‘n go lunches are free.
Hoping for the best, Seidel says she’s been gearing up for the worst. She’s been working with FEMA, the National Guard and the county to ensure Surrey has enough shelf-stable meals,
Well-meaning folks have dropped off food but Seidel says cash is what Surrey needs. “We’re not a food bank. Money would help us purchase in bulk to supplement what we have.” (Click here to donate.)
Working 12-hour days, Seidel, with help from her daughter, is handing out the lunches herself. But she’s hardly working alone. “I’m so proud of our crew. While everyone is holed up as they should be, I’ve got a group that’s working their butts off to make sure people at home are being supported.”
McKenzie Brew House delivers dinner with a side of hand sanitizer
Move over pale ales, IPAs and pilsners. Family-owned McKenzie Brew House is producing a hot new spirit these days: small-batch hand sanitizer.
And it’s giving it out free with all takeout and delivery orders.
McKenzie Brewmaster Jordan Sunseri (above) is distilling a 70-percent alcohol solution – the same percentage as Purell Advanced. The high-alcohol recipe ensures it kills germs and dries fast on your fingers.
And as quickly as Sunseri distills and blends a few gallons, owner Bill Mangan drives it to his brewpubs in Malvern, Devon and Chadds Ford, where staff helps bottle the pale green liquid and packs it with each takeout order.
“We thought it would be a nice thing to do for our customers,” Mangan says. “They’re helping us through this crisis by ordering from us. This is a way for us to return the favor.”
The biggest challenge may be sourcing enough bottles to keep up with demand. McKenzie ran through 600 bottles in three nights last week and was expecting a bigger bottle shipment this week.
Needless to say, the gesture has been a hit with customers.
“It was like getting a Happy Meal surprise!” says Judy Lemco who found the sanitizer tucked in her husband’s McKenzie takeout order in Tredyffrin last Friday. “I’ll happily order again – for the food and the hand sanitizer.”
McKenzie Brew Houses in Malvern, Chadds Ford and Devon are open daily 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., 2 to 8 on weekends. Order online or call for curbside takeout/delivery. Full menu of favorites and nightly dinner-and-drink specials. Complimentary hand sanitizer when bottles are available.
Drive-up and drive-by parties – what will the Main Line think of next?
#Alonetogether time started simply, with Chalk the Walk contests in driveways and rainbow and bear hunts in neighborhoods.
But with stay-at-home orders dragging on, sanity strategies have become more involved.
Strafford mom Christy Kaupinen taught herself how to use a circular saw so she could build a 70 ft. zipline in her backyard. Anything to keep her kids – ages 7, 6 and 2 – happy and active.
“The schools are doing a great job but I felt the kids needed to get outside and get their energy out after spending the morning on their iPads,” Kaupinen tells SAVVY. “They loved Treehouse World so I decided to build one here, between the only two trees in my yard.”
As a health-care marketing consultant, let’s just say this kind of project wasn’t 100 percent in Kaupinen’s wheelhouse. Good thing her helpful neighbor, Mark DiFeliciantonio, is a retired engineer.
Another creative way to pass the afternoon: the drive-up, socially-distant 21st birthday party we stumbled on near Easttown Library:
A small speaker – the black dot in the middle – played tunes. And the birthday girl assured us her guests sanitized their party hats before strapping them on.
Even the Easter Bunny has been keeping his distance, like the one we spied at “Hoppy Hour” in the village of Berwyn Friday afternoon. Filled eggs dropped on the grass for the kids, beer for the grownups.
Missing the pub? Share quarantune playlists and quarantini recipes at Main Line Happy Hour, a new public Facebook group. Share anything that makes you happy, invites group administrator Taiba Ashkar. Cheers to that.
And finally, our fave covid-coping strategy yet: last weekend’s “Saturday Night Fever Drive-by Dance Party” in Berwyn.
Three fun-loving families in the Conestoga-Woodlea Association near T/E Middle School – the Zdancewiczes, Ploszays, and Deloreforices – planned the route and playlists.
Jim Zdancewicz, who plays guitar and sings in the band, Bad Neighbor, figured he’d strap the band’s sound system to his truck and “take the dance party to the people.” Each street was serenaded with a different genre, i.e. “Crooners on Conestoga,” “Country on Cassatt,” “Hip Hop on Hickory,” “Oldies on Old State.”
Families partied from driveways and lawns while older folks waved from windows and turned their lights on as the tunes rolled by.
The parade was such a hit, the neighborhood is planning an encore as early as next weekend.
Party on, Main Line. Any way you can.