Red Hook Mutual Aid and Hudson River Housing Inc. hosted the “Hang On To Our ‘Hood” bike ride fundraiser on August 15.
The event was organized by Milan residents Felice Gelman and her daughter, Emmaia Gelman, to help their neighbors in Red Hook and Tivoli. Residents who are struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic also face the looming reality that the eviction moratorium ends in October in New York State.
The day of the event raised $5,500.
Red Hook Mutual Aid, founded by Jacqui Painter, is a volunteer-led group working to support the community members of Red Hook experiencing the negative impacts of COVID-19.
“Red Hook Mutual Aid is working to draw attention to the displacement risk people face who can’t pay their rent, to call for no evictions, and for landlords and tenants to work together to ensure no one loses their home,” said Felice Gelman.
In conjunction with registration, a $15 suggested donation was promoted with the option to either pay less or more.Hudson River Housing is still accepting donations for the Emergency Response Fund. All money raised goes directly toward rent relief for those in need of support in Red Hook and Tivoli.
Taste Budd’s Cafe in Red Hook was the start and finish point for the bike riders. It was made clear on social media that upon arrival, participants were encouraged to wear their mask when not on their bike, stay 6-feet apart, pre-register, and only gather with the group they arrived with.
“We had to be very careful to be sure we did not have a crowd anywhere,” said Gelman.
92 bike riders, in total, had the option of participating in the 25-mile ride, 13-mile ride, or 5-mile ride with 30minutes between each section. Once registered, people were then ready to start their bike ride.
Volunteers were not hard to find for this event. Although participants were well aware of maintaining a distance from one another, volunteers were there to help enforce social distance guidelines. Milan Town Board Member Debra Blalock handed out water at the half-way table with her mask and hand sanitizer.
“I spoke to friends and strangers, who stopped by my station for a break, and everyone was so upbeat. It made me feel good about my small effort and donation,” said Blalock.
Those that did not feel comfortable being around people were able to help with other tasks like social media and putting up posters around the area.
“Our volunteers were wonderful and, I think, very willing to be doing something that could help deal with the economic crisis created by the COVID pandemic,” said Gelman.