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Through our lens: Not all heroes wear capes

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  • Kim Szakalun, an employee of Mineral Hills Winery at Godard’s Red Hen Farm in Northampton, paints chairs for the deck in hopes of opening the outside portion of the winery soon. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • During the pandemic, PVTA is providing transportation for essential trips only. According to their website, “PVTA highly recommends all passengers wear a medical or cloth mask to cover their mouth and nose as recommended by the CDC while on board ... Riders must be traveling to an essential destination. All riders are required to exit the bus at the end of its route and may not re-board the same vehicle for a return trip. Multiple or consecutive round trips are not permitted and riders who appear to be loitering on the bus will be asked to deboard.” STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • U.S. Rep. Richard Neal shares a laugh with Steven Williams, right, who is the owner of Throne Room Delivery Services, at Nick’s Nest in Holyoke, Thursday, April 30, 2020. Michael Zaskey, the owner of Zasco Products, looks on. Neal visited the restaurant to highlight the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. The restaurant received a loan through the program. Williams and Zaskey also received loans for their companies. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Paul Diemand, a cafeteria assistant at Leeds School in Northampton, pushes a cart of bagged lunches past an illustration featuring the “Lunch Lady” from the book series of the same name by author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka in the JFK Middle School kitchen last week. Friday, May 1, was School Lunch Hero Day. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kim Keough, left, though avowedly not a supporter of Donald Trump, helps Trump supporter Sue Recos to clean her car after it was egged in the parking lot of the Elwell Recreation Area in Northampton on Saturday. Recos, who was attending a MAGA “rally for freedom” at the nearby Coolidge Bridge, said that several cars of Trump supporters were vandalized in the parking lot during the event. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Alicia Hunter, an intern with Sawmill Herb Farm, tends elderberry plants in a plot near Meadow Street in Florence last week. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brandon Sullivan waves to people wishing him a happy 29th birthday in a parade past his home in Chicopee on Saturday. According to his mother, Denise Sullivan, Brandon has a “savant-level” knowledge of every local parade, including the Holyoke Saint Patrick’s Parade, which was canceled this year, and he has always joked, “I want to have one come by our house.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Brandon Sullivan takes a birthday card from one of the Chicopee Colleens that would have been in this year’s Holyoke Saint Patrick’s Parade — had it not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic — during a special parade past his house in Chicopee on Saturday. Brandon's mother, Denise Sullivan, said he has a “savant-level” knowledge of every local parade and he has always joked, “I want to have one come by our house.” STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Photographer
Published: 5/7/2020 9:49:42 AM

This past week seemed busier than many, at least in my appropriately masked world. I got to see the JFK Middle School cafeteria and kitchen as the bustling focal point for the Northampton School’s emergency feeding program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthy meals get made and delivered to all school-aged kids who need them — not just the three grades the school usually serves.

It’s quite a Herculean task as a crew of perhaps six or seven comes together twice a week to bag hundreds of breakfasts and lunches, all meeting USDA nutrition guidelines, that are then bussed to four pickup spots around the city. Just acquiring the goods in the right sizes, with the right mix of proteins, fruits and vegetables — especially in this time of shortages when countless other schools throughout the country are doing the exact same thing — is daunting, especially on a tight budget. Quite different than buying in bulk and setting a lunch on a tray in the cafeteria. As Food Services Director Mistelle Hannah put it, “It’s certainly nothing we’ve ever done before.” It was nice to recognize this work on the occasion of the eighth annual School Lunch Hero Day.

On Saturday, I witnessed another minor miracle, maybe not of heroism, but at least of tolerance and cooperation. I was about to leave a demonstration in Northampton that was billed as both a “MAGA May Day” and a “rally for freedom” from COVID-19 restrictions when a woman asked me if I was with the press. A Trump supporter, she said her car had been vandalized in the nearby parking lot. By the time I was able to reach her vehicle, she and another woman were busy wiping up a shattered egg, apparently thrown with some force, dripping down the roof and windshield of her car. This second woman, offering help, let it be known quite clearly that she was not a Trump supporter. Yet they both worked together cordially, sharing a roll of paper towels and water from a bottle to clean up the mess.

Afterward, I drove to the home of a Chicopee man who was taking in the spectacle of “the St. Patrick’s Parade that never happened” from his frontyard. At least, that’s how his mother characterized the nearly half-hour long stream of vehicles. Brandon Sullivan was born with a developmental disability and according to his mother, Denise Sullivan, he has developed a “savant-level” knowledge of local parades, especially the Holyoke parade, often joking with her, “I want to have one come by our house.” Though this year’s March parade was canceled, the kind efforts of these 300 or so “parade-makers” made Brandon’s wish come true.

Kevin Gutting can be reached at kgutting@gazettenet.com.


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