The Week: What Caught Our Eye

March 28, 2020

Good morning, Friends and Colleagues:

Our world has turned upside down so fast, and it’s caused many of us to pause and think about the many individuals and organizations we’ve had the good fortune to know and serve over the years. We hope Facing Out is a sunny ray of hope as we face these challenging times together. Stay healthy and safe; the world needs you and we need you!

Sunlight steraming through trees and a small stream with some snowSigns of awakening and renewal are all around us. Get outside if you can. Breathe the air. Watch the birds. Inhale the smell of the earth.  (John Bulmer)

THE PEACE AND PROMISE OF WILD THINGS: When we slay this beast, as we surely will, when a brighter day dawns and we rebuild the economy, and thank the hospitals and the caregivers, and get people back to work and school (and when we finally have all the toilet paper we’ll ever need), the world will be a different place. But some things will remain: Lake George and the Adirondacks, for example. Through our new eyes, they will seem more beautiful than ever, more healing, more peaceful, more necessary, beckoning with a warm, familiar embrace. The millions of people who live within a four-hour drive of Lake George are now at home indefinitely. But when this trial comes to a blessed end, they’ll want and need a break and maybe a little fresh air, a comfortable hotel, a place to camp, a stream to paddle, a trail to explore. Warren County, Lake George and the Adirondacks will be a top choice – fun, safe, close to home, affordable and healthy. In the public and private sector, Warren County tourism leaders are already working on a recovery plan. They’ve taken to Instagram with the Seven Wonders of Warren County. The Lake George Chamber of Commerce has produced a great video, “We’re apart now, but we’re in this together.” And the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism is reminding the world, with a little help from poet Wendell Berry,  “We Will Be Here ADK.” Indeed, we will.

SARATOGA STAYING THE COURSE: The Olympics have been postponed, the opening of Major League Baseball has been delayed, the Triple Crown has been moved to September, but the Saratoga Race Course is scheduled to open July 16 (and we think that’s a very good thing!) Storied Saratoga drew 1.1 million people during last year's 40-day meet. Let’s hope they’re able to pull it off in these difficult times.

THE TOLL IT’S TAKEN: Before there was a Jack Welch at GE, there was Walt Robb. He was a rising star, a PhD chemical engineer helping out on the college recruiting team that visited his alma mater, the University of Illinois, in 1951. That’s where he spotted a young man he thought had particular promise. Bringing Jack Welch to GE was just the first of Mr. Robb’s contributions. He led the team of GE researchers who developed CT scanners and MRI machines and led the company’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna. He was a graceful and generous genius. In retirement, Mr. Robb, who died of complications from COVID-19, brought minor league hockey and arena football to the Capital Region, mentored innovators and invested in their ideas, was a stalwart supporter of the of Double H Hole in the Woods Ranch for children with serious illness, and, with his sons, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Walt Robb was a man of tremendous intelligence, aptitude, grace and impact.

THEN CAME NEWS that COVID-19 had taken Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award-winning luminary of American theater who works include “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993), “Ragtime” (1998), “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (1995) and “Master Class” (1996). He won a Tony for lifetime achievement in 2019, and many of his four dozen plays and musicals were performed on Broadway.

THEN THERE ARE the lesser-known stars of our human galaxy, people of enormous influence and achievement who are not nearly as recognized and appreciated beyond the invisible fence of geography as they are in their communities. People like Marlowe Stoudemire, a 43-year-old life force in Detroit who died this week in Michigan, leaving behind a wife, two young children and a legacy that makes you say to yourself, I wish I had met him. Sadly, there will be many more stories like this. Let us be mindful of the pain and suffering among us and resolve to offer each other the gifts of compassion and forbearance.

Daffodil_EPotter.jpgFor oft, when on my couch I lie / In vacant or in pensive mood, / They flash upon that inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude; / And then my heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils.William Wordsworth, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (Eric Potter) 


REMBRANDT HOME DELIVERED: Art museums can be a little intimidating to first-time visitors. All that whispering. How close can you get? Are these originals or copies? The Hyde Collection, closed because of the virus, is using the opportunity to reach out to those who might like to see its collection spanning 6,000 years of art — and to those who know and love The Hyde and would love to see an old friend from the confines of home. Here’s your chance to study a Picasso or a Rembrandt up close, take an audio tour or sign your kids up for an artful afternoon.

GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: Take a walk. Read a book. Or get some real exercise and throw the TV out the window. This weekend, why not dip into a World War II spy novel, or the hilarious tale of lawbreaking leprechauns, or the heroic story of a physician who sacrificed everything to save a 12-year-old boy? The doors of Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls may be closed, but the stacks are wide open – digitally.  Sample the online book, newspaper, magazine, TV and film offerings.

SALT OF THE EARTH: In good times, Agbotic supplies Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan, Whole Foods and other purveyors of fine fare with fresh vegetables grown naturally — even without the chemicals approved for use in organic farming. They offer tender baby beets and greens, baby radishes and greens, arugula and hemp grown in fields of birds, bees, and monarch butterflies near wetlands full of frogs. When COVID-19 hit, and restaurants and colleges closed, Agbotic lost most of its business. Now, the fresh produce from Sacketts Harbor, N.Y., is headed to food banks across the state.

POET ON CALL: Cut off from friends, family and the outdoor spaces he loved, a poet wondered what he could do to help his country survive COVID-19. He published his phone number online and invited anyone to call. As calls poured in, hearts poured out. Some worried about whether they would be able to hug elderly parents again. Some wondered what new turns their lives might take. One marveled at the songbirds in the meadow. One woman said: “And in these days where they are telling us that we cannot hug one another, that we cannot kiss each other, I really want to kiss a man.”

THE HANDS OF ANGELS: Community-minded quilting guilds and other craftspeople who are handy with a needle and thread are creating and donating handmade masks for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local hospitals aren’t ready to accept them — not yet — because they do not meet standards for medical protective equipment, but retirement communities, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, and all manner of caregivers are jumping at the offers. Kathleen Morris, the president of Quilts Schenectady, is helping coordinate an active group of local volunteers who are making and distributing tens of thousands of masks, using high-quality quilting cottons and elastic, and donating both the materials and their labor. “To me the story is the immense response of people that are all anxious to help,” she said. “We will not be able to keep up with the great demand all by ourselves, but I think we can make a big dent in it.” If you’re interested in contributing your time and talent to the mask-making project, contact Kathleen by email at

CARING FOR CAREGIVERS’ KIDS: Their moms and dads are at work, some around the clock, taking huge personal risks to care for others.  The kids, suddenly out of school, need a safe place to stay. The Capital District YMCA and regional BOCES system are expanding child care services to care for children of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered nurses, LPNs, and other essential workers. The Y is also partnering with the Victory Church and other groups to provide food for children in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties.

INVISIBLE HANDS: Two college students started helping vulnerable senior citizens by delivering groceries and medicine. They quickly enlisted the help of 1,300 others.

THE 411 ON 211: People who never thought they’d need help are finding now how much they depend on it. Fortunately, help with food, health care, stable housing, free and confidential crisis and emergency counseling, and other assistance is only three digits away, thanks to the United Way of the Tri-Counties and the Capital Region.

ALWAYS PRESENT: Catholic Charities has thrown out the old playbook and adopted an entirely new one. Its Meals on Wheels volunteers in Schenectady County are still making deliveries, its shelters remain open, take-out meals are being offered at soup kitchens, care management is being conducted by phone, and seniors are receiving wellness calls and frozen dinners. Catholic Charities needs volunteers, gloves, masks, wipes and other protective supplies, and donations.

BLESSED BE TRUTH TELLERS: He’s a New Yorker. You hear it in his voice. The grandson of Italian immigrants, born the year before the United States entered World War II, grew up in an apartment above his father’s pharmacy and graduated first in his class at Cornell Medical School. “I came to the conclusion that I owed it to these people, who were really quite ill, to give it everything I possibly could,” he says. The backstory on Dr. Anthony Fauci.

COLORS OF RESILIENCE: Inspired by a similar initiative in hard-hit Italy, Kristyn Dayter of Scotia launched the 518 Rainbow Hunt on Facebook, inviting people to hang rainbow images or artwork in their windows and for others to post photos of them as they encounter them on daily outings. The group rocketed past 55,000 members in a week.

KEEPING YOUR SANITY: We noticed several times this week there was a crazy person working in our house. He looks a lot like us. How do you keep your sanity while working at home? Hint: Gratitude.

THE BLESSING OF BEING HOME: For some, being confined to home has posed a big challenge. Yet in a book with the eerily relevant title “To Bless the Space Between Us,” the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue once observed: When you dream it is always home / you are among your own / now is the time to hold faithful / to your dream, to understand / that this is an interim time / full of awkward disconnection / Slowly, a new world will open for you / the eyes of your heart refined / by this desert time, will be free / to see and celebrate the new life / for which you have sacrificed everything.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:  Local charitable organizations that feed, clothe and shelter people in good times are getting slammed right now. The needs have exploded, the donations have dried up. The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has published a helpful list.

EVERY STEP, AN ADVENTURE: Frank Bruni delights readers of his op-ed column in The New York Times and, for those who can’t get enough of his elegance and insight, a weekly newsletter that gives him space for shorter snippets and observations. His short essay this week captures how even a breath of fresh air is fraught with new rules and uncertainty in this era of COVID-19: “(I)n the grip of this pandemic, even walking is no simple thing. In fact, it’s everything: the whole damned siege in miniature. It’s an exercise in fearing and being feared, in frustrated longing, in tortured courtesy, in pure confusion. It confronts you with how randomly people interpret the instructions that we’ve been given and accept the peril that we’re in, how smoothly and how sloppily we adapt. I lace up my sneakers, summon the dog, and what happens next, as Regan and I venture forth from my father’s house in a suburb of New York City, isn’t so much a respite as it is a subtle psychodrama. My walk doesn’t erase the crisis; it just swaps the claustrophobic version of it for one with a deceptively gentle breeze. … There’s some awful metaphor in the possibility that even nature might soon be off limits, with a ban on fresh air. In New York, which has been hit worse than any other place in the United States by the coronavirus, you can’t just go outside and take a walk away from it.”

NOT WHERE HE EXPECTED TO BE: Joseph Girard III, the Glens Falls native who holds the New York State record for points in high school, is back home after his freshman season at Syracuse was halted by the coronavirus. He’s trying to stay sharp by shooting hoops in his driveway and looking forward to getting back on the court, where every home game was a mini-homecoming.

IF YOU’RE GETTING OUT MORE: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has some timely advice for those looking to break their coronavirus-induced cabin fever – bears are nothing to mess with. So, don’t feed them. The DEC has other helpful hints as well.


REDEMPTION FOR THE SAINTS: COVID-19 denied the Siena Saints the opportunity to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball title – and perhaps even greater prizes — the old- fashioned way. They had won the regular-season MAAC title and were the No. 1 seed in the tournament when it was canceled March 12. Siena was a strong contender to be the MAAC representative in the NCAA Tournament, and at the very least were headed to the National Invitation Tournament, a sort of consolation prize for teams that miss the NCAA cut. Then the NCAAs were called off. The MAAC has announced the Saints will receive the MAAC trophy.


“Every storm runs out of rain”
Gary Allan, Hillary Lindsey and Matt Warren


GRAB A BEER AND GET ON ZOOM: Carlton Fisk or Jason Varitek? Jorge Posada or Yogi Berra? And Mike Piazza or Gary Carter? Who were the best catchers in history for every Major League Baseball team?

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU to our contributors: John Brodt, Bill Richmond, Bill Callen, Lisa Fenwick, Colleen Potter, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, Emily Behan, Matt Behan and Claire P. Tuttle.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

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