Chimes of Hope During Covid-19

By: Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato
June 11, 2020

Since the New York State on PAUSE Provisions went into place on March 15th, traditions as we knew them were turned on their head. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled, and Passover, Easter and Ramadan celebrations and services have moved to virtual platforms. Maintaining traditions has become a challenge, yet, we have still managed to create new traditions – a sign that we are still going to live our lives despite everything happening around us.

Traditions are so important because they remind us of what life is all about: our faith, our families, our heritages, our community and our friends. Starting new traditions during a time like this may seem impossible, but we’ve started clapping at 7 pm for our frontline workers, car parades have taken the place of birthday parties, and at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital (St. John’s) they’ve bought on a new tradition using their community as an inspiration – one that hits home for me.

Growing up in Far Rockaway, friendships were tight, everyone’s friendships became family, and our connections run deep. I had three friends who lived in my neighborhood: Annie was the neighborhood paper girl, and Kelly and Joanie were two of my best friends I met in High School. Joanie currently works at St. john’s, where on June 1st she will be celebrating 30-years of service to the hospital. When Kelly got married almost 20 years ago, Annie gave her wind chimes as a gift – decorated with shells and sand dollars, the theme of her wedding. The chimes became a treasured gift after Annie died way too young, dealing a great blow to our Far Rockaway communities and families.

However, Annie is remembered and honored every day at St. John’s. As hospitals everywhere have tried to boost the morale of their staffs, the most prominent solution has been to play an acknowledgement over the public address system when a COVID patient is discharged from the hospital. Some use horns, some use bells, but thanks to Joanie’s suggestion and Kelly’s donation, St. John’s uses Annie’s wind chime. Every time St. John’s discharges a patient with COVID-19, the wind chime is heard throughout the hospital. This wind chime is a source of hope, love and optimism for hundreds of staff, patients and their families. To this point, over 120 patients have been discharged after coming in with COVID-19, according to their most recent public reporting.

This is a true Far Rockaway story – something only possible in our little slice of the world. We are just four kids from Far Rockaway (three who were born in St. John’s) who loved our community and never forgot our roots. I was elected your Assemblywoman where every day I get to work hard and try and improve our lives. Kelly lives right across the bridge. Joanie has served our local hospital for 30-years, and has started a new tradition, using Annie’s wind chimes in the hospital we were all born in. Who would ever have thought life would come full circle?

I want to thank all the incredible staff, administrators, and medical professionals at St. John’s for the truly heroic work they have done. Facing an insurmountable situation – battling against one of the earliest and most dense COVID-19 hotspots – we always believed in St. John’s, and this pandemic has proven just how incredible they are.

I know that we will get through this stronger and more united than ever before because we have this sense of community, and we never forget our roots. I am so proud of our strength and resiliency, and we will get through this together. I hope you and your families stay safe and stay healthy.

My office is always available to help you! You can call us at 718-945-9550, email me at amatos@nyassembly.gov, or reach out to my staff for any assistance or for the latest information relating to the Coronavirus.