Shenango Chamber Launches #SupportOurValley

SHARON, Pa. – A new initiative organized by the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce gives Shenango Valley residents a way to safely check in on their neighbors curing the coronavirus pandemic, and support first responders and local restaurants.

Part of #SupportOurValley is the Neighbor Check-In initiative, which employs door hangers with space for residents to write an introduction with their name and phone number. The cards can be hung from doorknobs, thereby connecting with neighbors while maintaining a safe distance.

The idea was borne of concerns from residents on how to check on older people in their neighborhood who might not have access to online information and might be afraid to leave their home, says Sherris Moreira, executive director of the chamber.

“With the importance of following the rules of social distancing right now, we wanted to be very thoughtful in our approach to that concern,” Moreira says. “Creating a door hanger with a simple message of communication can allow residents to safely check in on a neighbor from a social distance.”

The neighbor check-in initiative is the brainchild of the chamber, Melissa Phillips, community and economic development director of the Ccity of Sharon; Brian Kepple, who heads up Sharon Beautification Commission; and Bill Dodd, co-founder of the Sharon Neighborhood Revitalization Committee.

“Some people want to help, but just aren’t sure what to do,” Phillips says. “This is an easy way to give agency to those who want to safely check in on their neighbors. During these uncertain times, a simple friendly gesture may really benefit someone who is feeling scared and alone.” 

The cardboard door hangers were donated by Minuteman Press, Hermitage, who wanted to help the community once they heard of the idea. “We know this is a tough time for folks right now, so we were glad to help out with this initiative,” says Kevin McDermott, owner of Minuteman Press. 

The door hangers are currently available at Minuteman Press; D’Onofrio’s Food Center, Hermitage; Palumbo’s Meat Market, West Middlesex; Save A Lot, Sharon; Shop ‘N Save, Hubbard; Farrell Golden Dawn; The Happy Eggplant Gourmet, Hermitage; and will come with takeout from Thelma’s Sports Nook in Sharpsville. They’re also available curbside at Maison de Savon and Webb Winery, both in Hermitage.

“We’re reaching out to some other stores around the community that are still open for business,” Moreira says. “There’s no obligation around this at all – it’s just based on the concept of being there for a neighbor who might be in need.” 

Two other initiatives the chamber is spearheading include the Support our First Responder Lunches and the weekly Highlight5 Shop & Support a Business initiative.

For the lunches, the chamber partners concerned businesses with a restaurant and a first responder group or medical department. The business purchases lunch, which is delivered to the group.

Peggy Dunder of Howard Hanna in Hermitage kicked off the program with the first delivery Hangry’s of Sharon to the entire lab department at UPMC Horizon Shenango Valley campus. Teen entrepreneur Cynthia Torrence donated two cases of her NIU low-calorie juice drink to the medical team.

More lunch deliveries to other first responder groups are planned throughout the coming weeks. Businesses can contact the chamber to help coordinate a lunch purchase for a first responder group as many of those in the medical field are now under various public access restrictions.

“It’s a great way to support a local restaurant and those on the front line of this health crisis,” Moreira says.

The Highlight5 Shop & Support A Business Initiative will include daily online support of a different local business with a drawing held Saturdays for a gift card. 

“Funding for our business community is being worked on by our state and federal departments and leaders as well as economic development organization and we try to get that information to our business community and local leaders as quickly as possible,” Moreira says. “But the daily living needs of the Shenango Valley business community, that’s our focus. We’re just trying to be creative in supporting our community and our businesses because the only way to get through times like these, is to come together to do so.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.