Letter To The Editor: We Will Get Through This Together

This article originally appeared on the New Canaan Patch

New Canaan First Selectman Kevin Moynihan wrote the following letter to the community, entitled "We Will Get Through This Together."

Dear New Canaan friends and neighbors,

As a town and as a nation, we are now a month into the most challenging health emergency we have seen in our lifetimes.

I would like to take a brief timeout to acknowledge and thank our local teams of professionals and volunteers who are working diligently and selflessly to protect and serve our town at this time of great turbulence and fear.

First, our Emergency Management Director Mike Handler (a resident and long-time volunteer EMT) and our indomitable Health Director Jenn Eielson are leading a team in our “virtual” Emergency Operations Center that is second to none. Mike is the “Voice of 7:00 pm” that is keeping you all informed and hopefully comforting you to know that our town is in good hands. Jenn is working literally day and night to guide and direct us to healthy outcomes. I
extend my heartfelt personal thanks to Mike and Jenn for their leadership and dedication.
Mike, Jenn and I have the advice and guidance of our two longstanding medical directors: Dr. David Reed for the Town and Dr. Harrison Pierce for the Schools. We thank them for their expertise and their wisdom.

Next, our first responders – Police, Fire and Ambulance Corps – are selflessly protecting us 24x7 when sickness requires emergency medical care or transport to the hospital. Newer residents may not know that our 50 NCEMS ambulance drivers and EMTs are ALL volunteers (except for Norwalk Hospital paramedics who ride our rigs). Our first responders are supported as needed by our Civilian Emergency Response Team, or CERT, 100 strong under the leadership of volunteer Stuart Sawabini. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to these professionals and volunteers in times like these.

We have two teams of professionals in our Town government and our School District who are performing remarkably to support the needs of our residents and our school children. Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi and his top-notch educators are leaders in the State of CT showing how to do e-Learning and distance learning seamlessly and effectively.

Our Human Services Department under the direction of Bethany Zaro is coordinating our churches, non-profits, and rafts of volunteers to assure that our seniors and vulnerable families have safe access to groceries (including New Canaan Food Pantry), take-out restaurant meals, Rx prescriptions and medical rides for seniors and disabled (through Getabout). I want to thank Dr. Luizzi and Bethany and all of our Town and Schools professionals and staff who are playing important roles in providing support to our citizens and students.

I also want to acknowledge the great work of Waveny LifeCare Network CEO Russ Barksdale and his staff who are providing care and protection to resident seniors at the Farm Road complex and New Canaan Inn, and also of Staying Put Executive Director Barb Achenbaum and her team of volunteers who support a large number of our seniors who are “staying put” at home through this crisis.

Volunteers of all ages from our churches, clubs, non-profits and others are also coming together to assist residents and those in need in many ways. Grace Farms Foundation is preparing meals daily for many in New Canaan and surrounding towns. Many of our restaurateurs are bravely staying open to provide curb-side delivery of take-out meals for our families. Our two local supermarkets, Walter Stewarts Market and ACME, are steadfastly supplying food and groceries to our families, and our pharmacies and gas stations are staying open to serve us. Tucker Murphy and Laura Budd of the Chamber of Commerce are working with us to find ways to support our local businesses and restaurants to help them survive the economic damage of this crisis.

Our Assembly representatives, State Senators Alex Kasser and Will Haskell and Representatives Tom O’Dea and Lucy Dathan are all working hard for us in Hartford making connections for us with State officials as we negotiate the details of the Governor’s declared State of Emergency.

To all the above, on behalf of a grateful town and on behalf of all of our residents, I say Thank You.

Finally, I want to thank all of you, our residents and your children, for your kindness, your support and your indomitable spirit and for adhering to the recommended guidelines for social distancing and self-isolating to the greatest extent possible. Please continue to keep safe and protect against the further spread of the novel coronavirus.

We need everyone to do their part to defeat this enemy. We WILL get through this together.

Kevin J. Moynihan
First Selectman