Editorial: In times of crisis, Darien opens its heart
In times of great fear, crisis and tragedy, often we see the best in people. But unfortunately, at the same time, we can see the worst.
Last week, the Town of Darien and First Selectman Jayme Stevenson took the initiative to set up an in-town testing site for the coronavirus. Most of the other drive- through sites are in bigger cities, so setting one up in a town of 20,000 with limited open space was going to provide challenges.
When it was initially proposed at Town Hall — a complex that is nestled in a small neighborhood bordered by narrow, family-home lined streets — the site was reconsidered after it was realized it would be too challenging. Looking at the site, should the testing area become popular, it would clearly raise traffic issues in that small neighborhood. Whether a neighbor or two raised the issue or not on social media makes the problem with the site no less legitimate. The issue is real and was justified.
After the first site was canceled, Stevenson worked with other town leaders, including Schools Superintendent Alan Addley and Board of Ed Chairman Tara Ochman and her board members.
The new site, Darien High School, which is currently sitting quietly due to school being closed, is a more appropriate site. It was well functioning on Monday and the town and the medical office are hoping to add more days in the upcoming week, pending supplies. Because it was at Darien High School, and the town partnered with the Board of Ed, school nurses were able to volunteer to support the testing as well.
Unfortunately, this issue was blown into an all out attack on Darien residents and their character — most of which based on a headline and not the facts.
Throughout this crisis, Darien neighbors have come together to help one another and the local businesses. They have organized fundraisers and volunteered to deliver shopping to seniors. They have donated to emergency fundraising for families in critical need. Businesses and residents have donated hundreds of meals to those being treated and treating patients in hospitals.
The town’s leaders have also been working tirelessly to shepherd the town through this unprecedented crisis.
Stevenson has been on the ground throughout this process, doing regular code red messages, advising residents on how best to use their time quarantined, modifying town ordinances as needed, reaffirming the need for social distancing, offering help to residents in need, partnering with local businesses and announcing daily statistics of the virus for Darien, locally and the state.
The Board of Education, Addley, and the school district have also exhibited leadership and transparent communication since it became apparent eLearning could be needed. Regular letters of communication from the district and the individual schools have been sent. Addley sent a video message on Sunday as well. Darien High School staff created a video tribute to their students.
Darien Human Services and its leader, Alexandra Ramsteck, have been the hotline for all residents’ needs since before schools and businesses were closed, coordinating donations and grocery deliveries. Corbin Cares, started as a partnership with Darien business leaders and the Community Fund of Darien, will feed hundreds.
Darien Police, fire, and Post 53 continue to work on the front lines for Darien residents. First responders are unable to quarantine and all of them put themselves at risk every day for their jobs.
In times of great crisis, both the best and the worst of human nature can be exhibited. Darien should continue to respond to this pandemic as it has been — and exhibit the best of human nature that it has to offer.