Observations from Centennial’s New York Office

Quarantine, Week 4 Reflections...

My husband Bob and I moved from Cincinnati, OH to New York City in 2016, to be closer to family.  Since then, I have worked remotely for Centennial.   You might be surprised to learn that Centennial has two team members based in New York City.  In addition to me, Larry Bennett is our team adviser to both Mike Sipple Sr. and Mike Sipple Jr.  It has been wonderful making connections for our clients from one of the world’s most vibrant business hubs.

Besides the benefit of being near family, we love all the wonderful things there are to do in New York.  The self-quarantine that was brought on by COVID-19 has changed most of that. While I am still working, the rest of our lives have come to a grinding halt.  We stay in touch with our children and grandchildren by phone, FaceTime and Zoom, but haven’t had an in-person visit in more than 4 weeks.  My event tickets sit idle, eagerly anticipating when “the city that never sleeps” can wake up again.

Madison Avenue, New York

My view from my 10th floor apartment in New York City has changed drastically in the last 4 weeks.  The constant activity that I love to watch, and be a part of, has almost completely stopped.  I miss attending weekly Broadway plays, cultural events, local museums and the less cultural, but oh-so-enjoyable, water aerobics. COVID-19 has drastically changed the city I love, but not all of it is negative.  There is much good emerging during our current crisis, and it is worth pausing to recognize this.

I know that New York is at the top of the news as the virus’s hot spot in the US.  However, living in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, I really don’t feel the panic.  Even though NY has 8.5 million residents in the 5 boroughs, the streets are quiet. Most dine-in restaurants and stores (except groceries and pharmacies) are closed. We live in a large apartment building, and while the facilities have always been clean, the management has doubled down on sanitizing.  The elevator buttons are disinfected every hour!

Although it is unsettling to not hear the hum of constant traffic, or see children playing on the rooftop on the building next door, or hug my grandkids, great things are happening. A volunteer organization called Helping Hands shops for seniors and high-risk people.  My friends who have used them shared that they were helpful – and prompt.  And, I can’t over-emphasize how greatly I appreciate the front-line workers I interact with – people working in stores, take-out restaurants and other essential businesses.  I’m encouraged by hearing customers thank them for coming to work.  This is a very small way we can give back to them – a simple thank you.

I have also seen leaders emerging all around me.  Communication is so critical right now.  Of course, we want updates from the government, but I have been so grateful for the regular communication from my building management.  We get daily updates from them, letting us know what is new, and how the building is preparing. This is a great example of leadership in the midst of uncertainty.  They are taking proactive measures and communicating what those are.  No matter what you are managing, regular communication provides a sense of unity and understanding that goes a long way.

My husband, Bob, on Park Avenue

New experiences are happening daily, out of necessity…and boredom.  We play board games on the computer with our grandsons many afternoons.  I see young families with their children playing and dancing on their terraces.  Bob and I take long walks and explore more of the neighborhood. I also see people planting their pots (that’s code for “garden” when you live in New York City!), a sure sign of Spring.

At 7 pm. every evening, apartment- dwellers from all over the neighborhoods open their windows or step out to their terraces to clap or ring bells for 2 minutes in honor of the medical workers and first responders.  Even the few cars on the street honk.  There is a lot of spirit here – and I am seeing nearby neighbors outside I haven’t seen before. We live so close to each other, yet until now, have been so far apart.  There are 800 apartments in our building alone; when everyone claps at 7 pm., the whole neighborhood comes alive.

Even if you are not seeing the spike in cases where you are, I encourage you to stay home, knowing that the number of cases will slow sooner if everyone practices physical social distancing.  We are all in this together.

During this difficult time, the Centennial team is here to support you.  We are hosting helpful webinars (take a look – we have a variety of topics).  We are making connections.  While the hub of our network is in Cincinnati, it continues to New York and extends into the world through the global organizations we serve.  How can we help you?  Please, let us know.

Stay safe!

Jessica Baron

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