Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert announce the latest update to the #PublicHealthIsHere4U media series, which highlights local COVID-19 public health efforts that are keeping our community safe. The series highlights county employees and volunteers that have come together to help battle this disease through the implementation of public health measures.
Today’s #PublicHealthIsHere4Uupdate features the essential public health role of COVID-19 youth volunteers and the Youth Bureau to help with essential services and assist residents in need.
Kathy Galione, a Program Coordinator with the Rockland County Youth Bureau, has been encouraging young people and families to volunteer in Rockland for the past 19 years. Since its infancy, Kathy has coordinated the County’s summer youth environmental and conservation corps, Rockland Conservation & Service Corps (RCSC), now entering its 20th season.
As a steward of the environment, the summer corps is very special to Kathy, and this summer’s experience for youth will remain largely the same. “Because of COVID-19 plans for this summer now include personal protective equipment requirements, small group teams with physical distancing, and virtual meetings. The youth of this county are our future leaders, and volunteer opportunities like the summer corps empower them to make a difference,”said Kathy Galione.
Ashley Sullivan, a youth volunteer who is an alumnus and current member of the summer Rockland Conservation & Service Corps, is a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame and lives in West Nyack. She shared this sentiment, “given the current situation concerning COVID-19, I have been stuck inside my house for a few months with few options to get out and do something productive. I am looking forward to working with RCSC again this summer because it provides me with a way to get outdoors and enjoy the natural environment that Rockland County has to offer. I’m also excited to be a part of the Corps again so that I can better my physical and mental health by getting outside and doing something worthwhile for the environment and the community that I’ve had the pleasure to call home my entire life.”
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Kathy is actively involved, as an Executive Committee Member and Volunteer Chair for the Rockland County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (RCVOAD), in connecting volunteers with various opportunities to help the community. RCVOAD is a coalition of nearly 40 organizational members that collaboratively plan, coordinate, and implement disaster/emergency preparedness and response as well as identify and respond to the unmet needs of people impacted by disasters/emergencies in Rockland County.
Since the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley began making regular deliveries in March to the Yeager Health Complex in Pomona, Kathy has organized over 120 volunteers that are needed to ensure success in unloading the truck and distributing fresh produce and daily products to local food pantries and feeding programs.
In addition, volunteers were recruited and trained to provide accurate COVID-19 response information, including distribution of a local resource guide, contact over 800 vulnerable residents on the County’s Special Needs Registry to inquire about their nutritional, pharmaceutical, and mental health needs, and canvass the needs of local agencies.
The Youth Bureau is also part of a Coronavirus Youth Committee to educate Rockland youth about COVID-19 prevention while encouraging them to educate their peers. Our young people created a movement, #YouthCanGetIt2, to help spread the word about COVID-19. Rockland County youth in grades 7-12 can win a $25 gift card for submitting a winning COVID-19 prevention message. Go to https://www.uwrc.org/covid19_youth.html for details.
“One word – resilience! The seven staff of the Youth Bureau have always been a strong, cohesive team, but this crisis has underscored our ability to adapt, plan, and get great work done under community, personal and professional duress. The bureau has forged strong relationships with new partners and strengthened ongoing partnerships through COVID-19 crisis-related initiatives. During this unprecedented time, the Youth Bureau is proud to be able to serve and help local children, youth, and families,”said Kathy Galione.