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North East Community Center update: NECC uses revamped website to deal with COVID-19 crisis

MILLERTON — After a decade of keeping the community informed of the North East Community Center’s (NECC) services, programs and events, the NECC website, www.neccmillerton.org, got a much-needed update recently that has made it easier to navigate. With the coronavirus pandemic, NECC has been utilizing its website to keep the  community informed about which resources and services are currently available and which have been adjusted to accommodate social distancing regulations set by the governor.

“We really appreciate the website we had before; it provided so much information,” NECC Executive Director Christine Sergent said when the site was relaunched, “but what we want to do is create a portal through which people could see visual representations for what we do for the community and have it be a little easier to navigate.”

Having talked about updating the website for quite some time with NECC Board of Directors member Julie Fajgenbaum, Sergent said Fajgenbaum connected with NECC Administrative Assistant Mollee Alquesta to work on the update. With Fajgenbaum in charge of laying the groundwork, Alquesta worked with NECC staff and teams on content being accurate and properly formatted.

During the course of four to five months, Alquesta and Fajgenbaum put all of the information online and made sure the domain and host were properly set up. Making sure its online donations page was working, the pair had the new website up and running in early January.

“We want it to be a really great knowledge source for people,” Alquesta said, “and we also wanted it to be a lot easier for us to update things. We were working with a web designer previously who was doing all of the work for us, so it’s great to be able to do it ourselves.”

On top of the content that’s already on the site, Sergent said NECC has goals for content it would like to feature, such as a volunteer section that would provide residents a chance to sign up for different community activities. She added that NECC hopes to promote opportunities for people to get involved with and donate to NECC.

Additionally, anyone browsing the website can now access an archive of NECC’s newsletters, which Sergent described as “a wonderful way to get updates on the NECC’s work and stay in touch with the organization.”

While organizations throughout the state and across the Harlem Valley have temporarily closed their doors to prevent the spread of COVID-19, NECC is striving to remain operational.

According to Sergent last week, “Our total staff number is 29 at this time. All staff are now able to work from home via our emergency preparedness plan, including our entire administrative unit. We are prepared to do so should an order require it.

“On a daily basis effective this week, only six staff in total are permitted to work in our two office buildings. Staff working remotely may stop in briefly to pick up or drop off items, one at a time. All staff are using the recommended guidelines to stop/reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Check the website for program details.

NECC has canceled most public events at this time, but plans to hold its farmers market on Saturday, March 28, which will be held outside the Millerton Methodist Church at the corner of Dutchess Avenue and Main Street.

Sergent said the Farmers Market Federation of New York said it’s safe to continue the market as long as it’s outside and there’s ample space among vendors. She said, for now, people can purchase fresh food at the market every other week.

Since the Webutuck Central School District has closed due to the pandemic, NECC staff members involved with the After-School Connections program have been reaching out to families with ideas for activities to do with their children at home. Though NECC’s Teen Team isn’t currently meeting in person, the program has been offering weekly Zoom and other video chat meetings.

Though very few people have been signing up as of late, NECC’s Dial-A-Ride is still in operation and will be shifting to delivering food and other supplies to those in need at this time. Online, NECC was clear about the program’s current status:

“Our transportation program continues to operate for seniors and families and individuals who need transportation services for access to pharmacy, food and other emergency supply outlets. We are currently transporting only one person per vehicle. However, we must remind clients for this program that, as usual, we are unable to let anyone with a contagious illness or signs of the virus access our service. Anyone who is ill should contact their physician directly to seek guidance.”

“I’m really proud of our organization and how our staff and our board is handling the situation,” Sergent said. “It really is chaotic and it’s changing every minute.”

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