They Do What They Can To Lift The Community

They Do What They Can

To Lift The Community

Van Zandt, Oliver, Drnek Take Initiative

While home-schooling her son for the time being, Destination Oneonta’s Katrina Van Zandt is organizing a coloring contest for county youngsters. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Coloring and photography cannot only be calming, says Destination Oneonta Director Katrina Van Zandt, but they can help keep Otsego County’s tourism top of mind.

After all, people aren’t going to be sheltering in place forever.

Sweet Home Oneonta’s Mark Drnek, who is also a Common Council member, has developed www.supportotsego.com to help businesses get the word out during the crisis. (Betsy Holland photo)

“We know that tourism has a big impact on Oneonta,” she said. “So we partnered with This is Cooperstown on its  coloring contest.”

It’s one of several ways entities in Oneonta, Coopertown and in between are reaching out to their neighbors under COVID-19 quarantines.

Sweet Home Productions, Destination Marketing of Otsego County (DMOC), Van Zandt and county Rep. Clark Oliver, D-Oneonta, are each taking step to help the county through the crisis and into a better time.

• TO A BRIGHTER DAY

The coloring pages, available on the Destination Oneonta Facebook Page, are open to anyone who wants to enter. “We’re giving away Downtown Dollar prizes in five categories,” she said. “You can use them at restaurants and stores, to buy those groceries at the Green Earth or treat yourself to dinner from the Autumn Café.”

• DOWNTOWN PROMOTIONS

Entries must use the #ColorMeCoop hashtag and must be completed by April 12, with winners chosen April 13.

Destination Oneonta is also working with Mark Drnek, Sweet Home Oneonta and the Eighth Ward Council member, on promoting downtown businesses online. “People were on Facebook asking where they could buy gift cards online to support local businesses,” he said. “We had the time, so we thought we should put together something.”

The website, www.SupportOneonta.com, aggregates local businesses by type and directs people to online ordering. “Everyone is doing what they can,” he said. “This is about getting this information out there to help these businesses replace this income.”

It’s free for businesses to be listed, and he is working with the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce to link to additional resources for business assistance.

• CITY AND COUNTY

He also built a www.SupportOtsego.com for businesses outside the city, and is working on similar pages for Delhi and Schoharie County.

The SupportOtsego page will also host the county’s Economic Impact Task Force survey, aimed at helping understand what businesses need to recover.  (That task force and a Health Care one, appointed by county board Chair Dave Bliss last week, are aimed at getting more people involved in tackling today’s foremost local challenges.”)

“I’ve been getting a lot of questions about relief efforts, loan availability and how to access those programs,” said Cassandra Harrington, DMOC executive director. “We put together this survey to make sure we know what the businesses need.”

The survey asks questions on whether businesses are remaining open or haven’t opened yet, how many employees they have, and how they promote their business.

“Businesses want to present a unified front,” she said. “We want to get them all together in a digital format so they can compare and be fair to their customers.”

The surveys will be collected throughout the week and analyzed at the task forces’ next meeting.

• LINING UP EXPERTS

County Rep. Clark Oliver is allying with other community leaders to help people identify needs and fill them. (Ian Austin/AllIOTSEGO.com)

Meanwhile, Oliver, the freshman county representative, has put together a growing list for county residents looking for educational resources, food pantries and restaurant deals, healthcare information and more.

“When the crisis began, there was just this onslaught of Facebook posts,” he said. “And I thought we needed a centralized location of all this information.”

Working with LEAF Executive Director Julie Dostal and Elyane Mosher Campoli, a local event organizer, Oliver put together the Google Doc. “Each school district, for instance, has its own food pickup, so we have a category for that,” he said. “We’ve got educational and entertainment pages, health info, deliveries and child care.”

There’s even a section for stress management and volunteers, and many of the services available are no-cost or a low-cost service.

And Oliver is hoping that people will add their own resources to the list.

“We’re really looking for people who are willing to do deliveries of groceries or medicine, or who might be willing to offer pet or child care,” he said.

The list is accessible at http://tinyurl.com/OneontaResourceForm

“It’s a positive aspect,” he said. “Seeing the community band together has been a really bright spot. It’s important that we help those in need.”

“I’ve never been more proud to be an Oneontan,” said Drnek. “Everyone is doing what they can to help out.”


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