Laid-off hotel worker Randy Yadao will be receiving some good news and financial support soon thanks to a Good Samaritan who read of his plight in this newspaper Monday.
Yadao, 47, and his wife, Febe, were both temporarily laid off from their jobs at downtown Ottawa hotels where business has plummeted because of the novel coronavirus. Randy, a laundry worker at the Ottawa Marriott, has been laid off since mid-March while his wife, a housekeeper at the Carleton Suite Hotel, regained some part-time work in late August after a layoff of several months.
Lesley LeMarquand said she is sending Yadao and his family a holiday card and cheque after reading about him. In addition to working at the hotel, Yadao was an Ottawa Citizen carrier and LeMarquand was a subscriber on his route. While they never met, LeMarquand said Yadao was a model carrier and that they exchanged Christmas cards annually.
“I just feel so sorry for people in his situation who have lost their jobs during the pandemic,” she said. “I’m very privileged, I’m very comfortable.
“The story really touched my heart and Randy was always such a reliable person,” LeMarquand said.
Yadao, who hopes to be recalled to work at the Marriott, and his wife are among thousands of hotel workers in the Ottawa-Gatineau area whose careers were shattered by COVID-19.
The great outdoors is experiencing a historic crisis, one that’s resulted in the new buzzwords “sustainable recreation.” On one hand, there’s the push by the outdoor industry to get more people outside, especially nontraditional users. However, COVID-19 has done this job better than any marketing campaign could ever dream. Many state parks have experienced a 40 to 300 percent uptick in visitation. Adding to the pressure on public lands are wildfires and an uncertain political climate that’s undermined protection for millions of acres. The result? Many recreation sites and wilderness areas are suffering due to misuse, lack of staff and funding, or just plain natural disaster.
But there are ways you can help to support places you love. Kenji Haroutunian, Access Fund board member, says that “volunteering time and resources to organizations not only feels great but creates a lasting relationship with the land.” There’s no doubt that the year 2020 has been a wild ride, for us, communities, and mother nature, but here are some ways to give back.
Our public lands need you. Find a local group doing work that you care about, whether it’s acting as a park host or interpreter, building trails, counting wildlife or conducting tours. You’ll make friends, have fun, and gain some sweat equity in our public lands. Check out volunteer opportunities with the forest service or contact your local national and state forests. “Consider your skill base, and whether you are interested in restoration, protection, conservation or something else, like saving white rhinos or tigers,” says outdoor industry and conservation consultant, Chris Van Dyke. “It really depends on what pushes your buttons. You can volunteer digitally, with letters and helping with campaigns, or physically through working with communities and parks. The important part is to get involved.”
Don’t give up on burned areas. Once a fire is out and restrictions are lifted, these landscapes are fascinating spots to explore and local communities could use your support. Sure, the landscapes will look different, but Douglas fir, Western hemlock, and Western Red cedar regenerate relatively quickly. In the meantime, you’ll be hiking (or snowshoeing) through some amazing new meadows, with spring wildflowers and plenty of new plant growth. Many mushrooms thrive after burns, as do animals who seek out new undergrowth for grazing.
Do your COVID Homework. If you travel, pick a place that is COVID smart. For example, Mammoth Mountain (CA) has spent more than $1M on COVID-19-related improvements, especially guest safety. Throughout the town, lodging properties are prioritizing COVID-19 protocols to ensure a positive guest experience, with occupancy limits for hotels and condos, and a vacancy period for short-term rentals.
Beat crowds by avoiding Google searches for your next hike or camping trip. Those “best of” destinations are most likely straining with overuse. Instead, get creative and find your own off-the-beaten path itinerary. Buy a map or check out a guidebook. Think outside the box. For example, consider Mojave National Preserve
UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) — A rally at a New York City hotel Saturday attracted politicians and advocates for the homeless.
NYC Mayoral Candidates Maya Wiley and Dianne Morales, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger and councilmember Helen Rosenthal were among the attendees.
The event was in support of men being housed at the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side.
Last month, a temporary restraining order was granted allowing the 235 temporary residents to remain there.
The Lucerne Hotel has been the subject of controversy throughout the pandemic.
Area residents have complained of a decline in their quality of life.
Related: Homeless encampments line New York City streets, Cuomo calls it ‘public health threat’
On Monday, a judge will hear the case that determines whether or not the men can remain there.
At the same time, UWS Open Hearts will be distributing winter coats, hats, gloves, and other winter gear donated by the community.
On October 19, Judge Debra James granted the men a TRO in response to a suite of affidavits from Lucerne shelter residents, a physician who specializes in substance abuse, a social worker, and a co-founder of UWS Open Hearts attesting to the irrational and harmful nature of the move.
Because of the TRO, residents are now receiving six-day-a-week services on-site from Project Renewal’s Recovery Center, which provides intakes, occupational therapy, and group meetings. At a standard shelter such services would normally only be available off-site.
Exclusive: Tenants living in Manhattan hotel alongside homeless men say they feel trapped
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Voters in San Mateo County cities mostly supported increased transient occupancy tax (TOT) rates – sometimes referred to as a “hotel tax” – which are paid by out-of-town visitors to help fund city services.
Ballot measures proposing increased TOT rates in the cities of San Bruno, San Mateo and Half Moon Bay so far met the majority needed to pass, with over 70 percent of yes votes for each city, according to unofficial results early Wednesday morning and 100 percent of precincts reporting. However, support in East Palo Alto lagged behind.
In support of The Telegraph’s new Unlock Long Haul campaign, aimed at kickstarting travel to destinations beyond Europe, nearly 70 travel bosses have written to the Foreign Secretary to demand that its blanket advisory against “non-essential travel” is lifted after lockdown.
Since March, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has warned against all “non-essential” overseas travel, but exempts destinations that “do not pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers”. In the summer, much of Europe fell into this category. However, with Covid cases now rising across the continent, that list is shrinking. Yet the vast majority of long-haul destinations – including almost every nation in Africa and Latin America – are still being snubbed. This is despite many having a far lower case rate than the UK.
The letter to Dominic Raab (reproduced here), signed by the bosses of leading firms including Last Frontiers, Martin Randall, Steppes Travel, Transindus, Dragoman, Explore Worldwide and Sunvil, as well as trade organisations such as the Association of Independent Tour Operators, points out that the FCDO advisory means those who wish to travel to non-exempt countries must do so with “inadequate or no insurance, something the Government’s own Travel Aware campaign was set up to avoid.” They are also, in nearly all cases, required to self-isolate when they return to Britain – a barrier that is further stifling business.
Specialist long-haul tour firms employ thousands of highly-trained sales and operations staff, as well as expert guides. In the UK, the winter sun travel market is invaluable to holiday businesses and supports millions of jobs across destination countries – many of which are developing nations.
As the letter to Mr Raab warns, “We all either work for or represent specialist and long-haul tour operators, and have all had to make valued members of staff redundant. Even more tragically, we have all seen increasing levels of poverty, poaching, and other environmental damage in destination countries.”
Many winter-sun destinations, from Costa Rica to Egypt, are now fully open to tourists, including those from Britain. Most have falling or stable coronavirus case rates, have recorded far fewer deaths per capita than the UK, and many have state-of-the-art medical facilities that, in a worst-case scenario, can be accessed using travel insurance.
Restrictions on entry vary. Some countries check the temperature of arriving travellers, others require them to take a PCR test before departure, and in some cases travellers must complete a period of quarantine. Several countries, including Brazil, don’t require anything of those arriving by air.
The Seattle-based home rental business donates time in rental properties to families in need
SEATTLE — Wanna get away? Vacation Angel Network, a home rental platform based in Seattle, may have what you’re looking for.
“We have everything from small treehouses to giant mansions,” said founder John Fahey. “Your price range can be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars a night up to $5000 a night.” The network functions like Airbnb, but there are no added booking fees.
But the Vacation Angel Network doesn’t exist just to benefit renters, it also donates getaways in their homes to families in need, for free.
“Usually, it’s kids who are going through pediatric cancer, and we let their families go on a free vacation after they’re done with treatment,” Fahey said. “We’ve teamed up with a bunch of different foundations and they will nominate people for us.”
One of those families is the Wyneas. “It’s very nice to know there are a lot of people out there who are willing to help,” said Caleb Wynea. His daughter Aliyah was diagnosed with a rare benign brain tumor, “We didn’t expect this to happen to us, everything was pretty much normal until she had a headache that just wouldn’t go away.”
Surgery to remove the tumor came with multiple complications and side effects. Aliyah had to learn to walk again, has ongoing symptoms similar to a traumatic brain injury, and her endocrine system doesn’t regulate normally. Outside support from the community and entities like Vacation Angel Network means everything to her parents.
“We’ve really developed a very virtuous cycle,” Fahey said. “For the homeowners, I know it’s a positive experience for them – I know it also helps their business out, incidentally. And then for the families, you just see it in their faces. They have an amazing time. The whole thing is just a really positive, feel-good experience.”
Vacation Angel Network features homes throughout Washington State, the Idaho Panhandle and parts of Western Montana. Fahey said he’s looking for new homeowners to join the network, and would love to spread out nationally someday.
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Travel businesses have told The Telegraph that the industry will be “torn to pieces” by the new lockdown measures, which will outlaw all non-essential movement from Thursday.
The new rules will last until at least December 2, rendering all holidays and leisure travel off-limits – both in the UK and overseas. And with many businesses ineligible for furlough, or unable to top up staff wages, business owners are pleading for extra financial support from the Government.
The industry is “not just frayed or ragged – but in shreds,” said Emma Coulthurst, a spokesperson from TravelSupermarket.
“The travel industry had no pre-warning about the decision. Both here and overseas, many people rely on the tourism industry for their income: entertainers, hotel and bar workers, etc. Covid has wreaked devastation on so many people’s lives.”
For many businesses, the extended furlough scheme will not be enough to support them through winter. “The travel and hospitality sectors are already on their knees,” said Sonia Davies, CEO of travel agency Scott Dunn. “We are yet again surprised and very disappointed by the latest government u-turn and subsequent chaos that this creates for the travel and hospitality sectors.
“Whilst we understand the need to balance the health of the country with the economic impact this causes, the lack of forward planning is causing chaos for both businesses and consumers.”
“Standardised testing now has to become the absolute priority,” Davies added. “It is crucial now to solve this testing fiasco and get an international system in place, starting with Europe and then rolled out globally with common agreement between countries as the WTTC has called for over the last few weeks.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Centres, agrees. “The ban on international and domestic travel as a result of the new lockdown measures will crucify the travel industry,” she told The Telegraph. “The reality of the new lockdown means many of our travel agency members will not last the year without a financial support package from the Government.
“Fifty per cent of jobs from our members have been lost since March, and 80 per cent will run out of cash by May.
“Since the summer, the industry has been crying out for a testing regime to be implemented at UK points of entry – and we are still waiting.”
Instead of a reliable testing regime, the industry has been dealt an “ineffective yo-yo quarantine system”, said Lo Bue-Said. Now, the travel ban will “without a doubt lead to an unwelcome déjà vu in terms of providing advice and support to confused travellers and a rush on refunds which will again put pressure on travel agents whose bottom line is sinking lower and lower.”
Airlines too, are struggling with the setback. “The steps the government has taken, which effectively prevents leisure air travel from the UK, has caused further disappointment for our customers who have been looking forward to well-earned holidays,
PATERSON, NJ – A $2 million, five year, federal grant awarded to the Paterson Education Fund (PEF) will benefit students at two Paterson public schools, officials announced Thursday at Senator Frank R. Lautenberg School.
The funding, provided through the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program, will be used primarily to provide academic support services, youth recreation activities, and counseling services for students both at the Lautenberg School and at Public Schools No. 15.
“The announcement we are making today is the embodiment of the phrase, ‘It takes a village,’” said Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer. “People from all over our village, the City of Paterson, have come together to secure this federal funding and implement programs to help our students academically succeed during these challenging times of the pandemic. This funding provides resources for the dynamic educators and organizations involved to do all they can for our students. I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped secure this funding, and all who will see to its good use.”
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Shafer’s comments were backed up by no only the presence of U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9) and representatives of the Paterson Education Fund, the Paterson Alliance, the New Destiny Family Success Center, and St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation, but also by the fact that those same non-profits will join together to help implement the grant funded initiatives.
“As a former educator, I know well that our education system is the cornerstone of society. Wherever we go as a community, as a state, as a country, and as a civilization depends on our commitment to education,” said Rep. Pascrell. “As this virus has upended our communities, protecting an equal playing field for our students is essential. The resources provided by this federal investment will change countless lives and be the start of something of special in Paterson school hallways. There’s nothing more important than that.”
PEF Executive Director Rosie Grant said that the effort to secure the funding has been collaborative from the start and that all the partners worked together for the past year to build a sustainability plan. “It’s wonderful that this first fruit of our labor will benefit the children and families of Senator Frank Lautenberg and School 15!”
“Everyone wins when we put children at the center,” she added.
The grant funding will be used to provide students at the two schools with academic supports such as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) enrichment, an afterschool program that will run Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and a summer program that will run for approximately four weeks in July.
“This shows the strength of the Paterson Alliance, with support from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation. We bring together partners – in this case the Paterson Education Fund, New Destiny Family Success Center, St.