Local businesses have begun to reopen and continue on their path to recovery, though it hasn’t stopped owners to continue efforts to give back to hospital workers, first responders and residents in need.
For Gary Contes, co-owner of Village Coffee Market in Stony Brook, there’s a deeper meaning to his coffee-blend-pack donations to hospital workers. He created a special blend of coffee called “Here Comes the Sun,” named after the Beatles song that is played throughout the halls when COVID-19 patients leave Stony Brook University Hospital.
“For patients, the song means a new beginning, a new day, and it’s just a sense of optimism they get,” Contes said. “So, I kind of wanted to share that same feeling with the hospital workers with this blend.”
The owner said individuals can purchase a 12-pack of the special blend for $7.50, though the catch is that they don’t get the coffee, the frontline workers do. Contes then donates the packs and makes deliveries to workers at Stony Brook Hospital and other health care facilities.
Contes said the “Here Comes the Sun” coffee is a medium roast that has a slight smoky taste to it and a “nice full body flavor.”
“I wanted to come up with a great tasting coffee which would appeal to anyone,” he added. “Everyone that buys a box, they get to write a message that will be seen by the workers who open up the box. This is our special way of saying thanks to them for all they do.”
So far Contes has donated more than 220 boxes and hopes to make it to 1,000 in the coming months.
“All our customers have been eager to participate,” he said. “It’s always very touching when we go out to deliver. Recently, we had one of the workers start to cry when she saw the boxes of coffee. My wife is a nurse, and I have other family members in the health care field, so, this means a lot to me. As a businessman who is struggling right now, if it steers people to come here and buy coffee for themselves, I would be thrilled, but if given the choice and they had to buy one item, buy a box of ‘Here Comes The Sun.’”
David Prestia, owner of Bagel Express in Setauket, has been donating meals to Mather, St. Charles and Stony Brook University hospitals for the last few months but also was suffering businesswise from the shutdown. He then came up with an idea that would get customers and the community involved.
“Our customers wanted to pitch in and help the first responders,” he said. “That’s when we came up with the sign idea.”
Prestia began selling support signs for frontline workers. The signs cost $20 with the funds going toward sending food to local hospitals and first responders. Customers are encouraged to display their signs outside their homes. He said Decal Designs Mobile only charged $5 each to have the signs made, and Michael Ardolino, founder and owner-broker of Realty Connect USA, donated funds to offset the cost.
Prestia has already sold more than 400 of the signs.
“The community got really involved and wanted to donate,” the business owner said. “It is great to spread awareness and give those workers thanks. It’s amazing how many of our signs we see in the area. It is wonderful to see. I’ve been here for 30 years and it is great to see the community coming together.”
Residents have been doing their part to help those in need during the pandemic as well.
Jake Shangold, a Ward Melville High School senior, has been raising money for Island Harvest food bank by starting a virtual food drive, www.fooddriveonline.org/islandharvest/jake.
Shangold began handing out flyers in the community and promoted the food drive on social media. He was able to raise $3,000 to help those in need of meals. With the money raised, Island Harvest will be able to provide 6,000 meals.
“I wanted to help people in need, especially with what’s going on with the pandemic,” he said. “I was very happy I was able to raise so much money, and I hope to continue doing these food drives in the future.”
Know of a Three Village business or resident doing good in the community? If so, email [email protected] to let us know.