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Mountain Home Magazine

Socially Distant but Not Far Apart

May 01, 2020 11:49AM ● By Gayle Morrow

The more prescient among us probably knew something like this would happen one day. You can imagine a cross between Albert Einstein and Sheldon Cooper, scribbling complicated formulas on a blackboard, running various analyses—probably without the aid of even a calculator—and concluding that the world would indeed eventually be dealt a pandemic hand in the cosmic game of cards, and that it would be silly, even deadly, to try to bluff the dealer.

So, we can wring our hands, or we can use them to help each other. Here’s what some folks are doing.

For Dave DeGolyer, communications manager for Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, promoting tourism during a time when nobody is supposed to be going anywhere isn’t happening so much. But he’s all about promoting how local businesses and individuals are helping each other.

“While Corning’s Gaffer District has been gaining more and more recognition as a foodie destination thanks to Bon Appétit Appalachia and the exceptional cuisine being offered, some of our longest standing as well as our more creative restaurants have been donating more than time to their local community by donating food to Corning’s Community Food Pantry,” Dave says.

While these numbers have undoubtedly gone up, initial offerings were as follows: Market Street Brewing Company (the oldest microbrewery in the area) donated 100 pounds of fresh produce and dairy products; Sorge’s Restaurant (one of the longest-running family dining establishments in Corning) donated fifty pounds of eggs; Hand + Foot donated 338 pounds of food; The Cellar donated 290 pounds of food.

He adds that Liquid Shoes Brewing is currently collaborating with other breweries to make a liquid fundraiser—a beer—with a portion of the proceeds going to hospital workers in the area. The name of the collaboration is “All Together.”

“I just wanted to share some of the efforts local small businesses have been taking to aid the community,” says Dave.

Art in the Time of Pandemic

John F. Kennedy said art “establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.” (From a speech at Amherst College, October of 1963.) Ditto for artists. The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, with funding and support from the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, has established an emergency arts fund to help artists during the COVID-19 emergency.

“I’m really seeing an amazing amount of generosity,” says ARTS Executive Director Dr. Connie Sullivan-Blum.

Many artists in the region have lost income due to cancellation of shows, performances, and classes, and because retail outlets are closed. So, mini-grants help, Connie says, adding that the artist-to-artist help has been amazing as well.

“I’ve been really moved with how artists who have resources are contributing to those who don’t,” she says. “It’s been really beautiful. I’m also seeing a lot of support for online classes between artists. It’s a mad dash around here, trying to figure out what to do, but the outpouring of love for our neighbors has been heartwarming. The Twin Tiers community is really pulling together.”

To find out more about the ARTS’ emergency art fund, visit

More Helping Hands—and Paws

In Clinton County, the SPCA branch there wants to make sure the animals have enough to eat. Shelter officials want to give back to the local community that has been so supportive, and is offering to help in the coming weeks and months as impacts from the COVID-19 virus evolve. For those who may not have the resources to purchase food for their animal friends, contact the Clinton County SPCA at (570) 748-4756 or private message the facility. Please do not come to the shelter.

WQBR “The Bear” radio in Avis, is handling the podcasting and technical work for the Facebook streaming of three area churches for their congregations, and providing information about businesses doing take out/delivery in the area—all at no charge. Dave Stratton, one of the station’s owners, says, “Right now, they can’t afford it, and people need to know where they can get help.” At the Red Eye Center in Flemington, just outside of Lock Haven, Mike Toner and helpers are delivering two meals a day to approximately 400 people in the Lock Haven Area. Call (570) 893-8001 to help or to be helped.

At Trinity Methodist Church in Jersey Shore, which is currently housing the New Love Center, food is the focus. The New Love Center had been offering free meals and an opportunity to socialize. There has been a temporary halt in the socializing, but those in need of a meal can walk in and get food to go. At last count, the New Love Center was serving 260 meals a day as well as delivering food to ninety area residents. For more information visit or call (570) 772-3275.

Throughout the Twin Tiers, neighbors are helping neighbors. On the Cornell University campus, volunteers are sewing medical masks for frontline health care works. In rural Gaines Township, township supervisors are volunteering to shop for food and pharmacy needs for those who are self-quarantined or are unable to get to a store. What can you and I do?

Distilling Hope

Back at the end of March, on a windy farm road working its way through a family cattle farm in the small town of Canisteo, cider maker Kevin Collins was contemplating not only what was happening in the world, but his craft and his career. Being the most awarded farm cidery in the United States in 2017 is quite a feat, but in light of the way the world has in many ways stalled, it certainly wasn’t foremost on his mind. Kevin posted on the Cider Creek Hard Cider Facebook page that he was looking at the barrels sitting there aging, and thought, “this barrel, filled with years of hard work, would do more benefit to our community as hand sanitizer vs sitting on a shelf in a fancy bottle waiting to be drank (I know many will disagree). So, I have decided to join the ranks with brewers & distillers around the world and help fill the void of hand sanitizer in hopes to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some of my barrels will have to be sacrificed for this project, but that’s ok by me. I rather help slow this pandemic so we can all get back to our normal lives, than sell a high end bottle of cider.”

Later that same day, Justin Rectenwald, a winemaker from nearby Arkport, saw Kevin’s post. Justin, owner of Wild Brute Winery, had some fortified wine that he hadn’t finished working with, and he thought the wine, which is a stronger proof naturally at around 12 percent, might work well for making sanitizer. He contributed 1,000 liters.

Kevin and Justin then contacted Carlton Reeves, owner and head distiller at Krooked Tusker Distillery, on the west side of Keuka Lake. “When we started,” Justin says, “we were using these hillbilly stills we concocted, but Carlton Reeves has some serious professional stills and he’s made this whole process so much better.”

Kevin concurred, noting that Carlton “has been working tirelessly around the clock turning our wine and cider into the alcohol needed to make this sanitizer.”

The first batch of hand sanitizer was ready within days.

Justin then contacted Chris Missick at Villa Bellangelo. It seems regulations and laws are changing almost daily, and Justin figured Chris, who had recently run for a state senate seat, might have a better grasp on some of those legalities. By the time they finished talking, Chris provided more than his expertise—he also agreed to donate 1,500 gallons of wine. And those who don’t have alcohol to donate have been offering other assistance. Kevin White, for instance, owner of White Imprints in Cuba, New York, has printed and donated labels.

Ultimately, the process of taking that initial alcohol and running it through two distillings to get it to 160 proof reduces it tenfold (if they start with 100 gallons of wine, they end up with about ten gallons). It is a day-long process.

The first sanitizer recipients are the front liners—first responders, hospital staff, and so on. Justin says most of the sanitizer for New York’s Department of Corrections is being sent to New York City, so folks in the rural communities barely have any, and area hospitals are running short. Justin notes that perhaps the most challenging thing about this whole collaboration isn’t the hard work, but the logistics of who gets sanitizer. “Everyone is deserving of it, so it’s been hard not just being able to give it to everyone who asks,” he says.

If you get a chance, be supportive of these folks who are working hard. They’re an example that small businesses and individuals can make a difference: not just in times of great difficulty, but always.

~ Dave DeGolyer

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