Nyack Sketch Log: United Hospice

by Bill Batson

The cruelest moment of social distancing during a pandemic comes at the end of life. Almost all of the 56,000 Americans (as of 4/28/20) who have been lost to the novel coronavirus met their demise without the company of loved ones. When I was informed by nursing home staff that my mother had COVID-19 symptoms, I implored the doctor to approve her enrollment with the United Hospice. I might not be at her side, but the profession committed to bringing comfort and alleviating pain would be there for her.

Thank heaven, my mother is in no hurry to meet her maker. She has rallied in recent weeks and may survive the six-months life expectancy required for hospice eligibility. But when the light of life dims, the promise of United Hospice can be engaged again, to ensure that the end need not be a cold departure but a warm embrace.

United Hospice provides a wide range of services to individuals facing serious illness and their families. This was the third occasion we were confronted with the challenge of making end-of-life decisions. Each time, all of our most urgent personal and professional needs were met by United Hospice.

Dame Cicely Saunders

Dame Cicely Saunders

Hospice provides palliative care that not only eases the physical suffering of the patient, but also reduces the emotional and psychological stress of the caretaker. The living have been called upon since time immemorial to witness their loved ones shuffle off this mortal coil. But since the mid-20th century, the health care community has begun to pay more attention to the particular needs of the elderly and the terminally ill.

In medieval times, a hospice was a place of shelter for the weary or for travelers who encountered medical misfortune on a long journey. British physician Dame Cicely Saunders first used the term in a clinical setting for her work with the terminally ill, creating the first modern hospice–St. Christopher’s Hospice, in London, in 1948.

In 1963, Saunders was invited to lecture at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she introduced the concept of specialized care for the dying to medical practitioners in the United States. Six years later, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published the seminal work, On Death and Dying, a book based on more than 500 interviews with dying patients.

United Hospice

CEO, Amy Stern

amy color photo

On June 12, 2020, Amy Stern is retiring  after 32 years of service. United Hospice Chief Operating Officer, Cara Pace, has been appointed to be the next CEO.  This will assure a smooth transition.

Amy Stern has led United Hospice since 1989. She was hired in 1988 as their first social worker. Before UH, Amy’s work included the establishment of a palliative care home care program at Good Samaritan Hospital and social work in acute care hospitals and foster care settings.

“We know firsthand from our observations and from what has been conveyed to us by patients and families that people reap the largest benefit from hospice when they access hospice services sooner rather than later,” Stern said. “We continue to be surprised by how many Rocklanders  are unaware of the services we provide or have inaccurate information about eligibility and the services we  provided. Studies have demonstrated that hospice patients live longer than  their counterparts that do not use hospice services.

Hospice care is not a death sentence.  We help to improve quality of life, reduce caregiver burden, and provide invaluable resources.”

For additional information visit United Hospice.

By the late 1980s, there were three organizations attempting to offer hospice-like services in Rockland County. A strong desire to have a a true hospice organization led these groups to form United Hospice of Rockland in 1988. (The organization recently dropped “Rockland from their name as they expand their services to other counties.)

UH envisions a community in which all individuals and their loved ones facing serious illness can retain their dignity and hope while receiving quality care. UH’s mission is to honor life, give care, and bring comfort. The services they provide can take place in a patient’s home or at the Joe Raso Hospice Residence that opened in New City in 2012.

A patient must be diagnosed with a terminal illness and have a six-month or less life expectancy to be eligible for hospice services. UH works with patients and their families to develop a personalized plan of care. Guidance and support includes:

  • Nurses, including on-call nurses who are available 24 hours/day
  • Home health aides
  • Social workers
  • Physician care
  • Spiritual support
  • Nutritionist
  • Therapies (physical, respiratory, occupational, speech, music and massage)
  • Volunteers
  • Medications
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Bereavement counseling
United Hospice of Rockland_FAB

Frances Adeline Batson

Our family has relied upon the services of United Hospice three times in the last 12 years. In our household, taking one’s last breath at home in bed is the preferred, time-honored tradition. My father, William Prime Batson, and his sister, Frances Adeline Batson, struggled to grant that wish to their mother, Frances Lillian Avery Batson.

When Frances and Prime, as their friends called them, requested that same consideration, my cousin Sylvia Peterson and I were compelled, by their example, to accommodate them. We both feel strongly that the services of UH made it possible for us to fulfill that promise.

william prime batson

William Prime Batson

Since the cost of hospice care is significantly less than hospitalization, coverage is available from Medicaid, Medicare, and most insurance carriers.

A team of people and a variety of equipment vendors helped transform a room in our home into a hospice setting. On a good day, that task would have been daunting. While overcome with despair, it would have been impossible. Hospice assumed the logistical and medical responsibilities, leaving our family to sit, dine, and commune with our nearly departed.

If you want to be in the position to help ease the suffering of a parent and terminally ill family member, the time to act is now. If you want your wishes respected at the end of your run, commit those desires to notarized papers.

Volunteer Needed

United Hospice relies on the services of volunteers. In fact, Hospices must demonstrate each year cost savings realized through the utilization of volunteer services.

Volunteers who wish to work with patients and families will go through a comprehensive training program. They are also happy to have volunteers work in their office, assist fundraising department, offer personal care (manicures, pedicures, haircuts, shaves, etc) services for patients, tend gardens, and participate in speakers’ bureau.  There are no limits to the ways in which volunteers can help.

If you have an interest in volunteering, please contact Marie Woodsmith at (845) 634-4974.

Make sure that older members of your family have a health care proxy, power of attorney, and living will in place. UH provides a free service to help families create and store their advanced directive online at assuringyourwishes.org. However, everyone 18 years of age and older–but particularly seniors–should be aware of the legal and medical documents that express your wishes in the event of your incapacitation.

No matter how prepared you are, the loss of a loved one is devastating. Being unprepared can expose the patient to unnecessary suffering and leave a family with a feeling of irreparable regret.

Three years and one month apart from each other, my father and his sister passed away in their beds, as they had wished. When the dreaded loss of a parent comes with such tranquility and dignity, the lingering impression is of your loved one slipping gently into the eternal slumber.

United Hospice CEO Amy Stern receiving a donation of homemade PPE from Nyack Mask Makers co-founder and Nyack Sketch Log author Bill Batson

For those transcendent memories, we thank United Hospice.

If you have enjoyed my column at any point during the last nine years, I ask that you support the continuation of the Nyack Sketch Log by visiting nyackgift.com and consider acquiring or sharing one of my books or some of my merchandise. As one of Nyack’s smaller businesses, I thank you for your past support and hope to continue to provide the people of the village that I love illuminating illustration and edifying essays long into the future.

Donations are also welcome through paypal via wrbatson@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: ” United Hospice” © 2020 Bill Batson.  To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: The Other Pandemic, Domestic Violence

by Bill Batson

Advocates from the Center for Safety & Change have witnessed a tsunami of domestic violence follow the public health earthquake that shook the world in March, 2020. Chief Development Officer Tracie McLee reached out to the Nyack Mask Makers, requesting 500 cloth face coverings to protect their growing number of clients from the viral contagion, the third largest request in Rockland County. Massive institutions like Montefiore Nyack Hospital and Rockland Psychiatric Center came in first and second. “Demand for our services increased by 50% in one month,” McLee alarmingly reports.

The real need may be even greater, considering the challenge of calling for help when you “shelter” in place with your abuser. As cynical as it may sound, we will #flattenthecurve for coronavirus long before we stop the global spread of domestic violence.

Nyack Sketch Log recently sat down with the Center’s Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Santiago. Here’s the story of a domestic violence shelter that has not had an empty bed since 1979, which begs the question, what can we do to end the scourge of intimate partner violence.

A letter From Elizabeth Santiago

The pandemic and shelter-at-home mandates have added new layers, creating unimaginable environments at home. Hundreds of families – our loved ones, friends and neighbors – are living each hour of every day in fear and uncertainty.

Their lives depend on breaking through their current circumstances. Yet, they cannot do it alone and we pledged to them that they would never need to. Our help is needed now more than ever which is why I am calling on compassionate friends like you.

One month ago, the Center transitioned to remote and virtual operations, with the exception of the Emergency Residential Shelter. This ensured continuity of our essential work, yet resulted in more than $100,000 of unbudgeted expenses.

We have since worked with an unprecedented 50% more victims and survivors, illustrating just how essential our services are to our community, most especially during turbulent times like these.

Click here to learn more and donate

If you or someone you know needs these services, their 24-hour hotline is (845) 634-3344.

What was it like before 1979 for victims of domestic violence?

Victims of domestic violence before 1979 did not have anywhere to go. Police would be called to homes by neighbors to intervene in a domestic violence occurrence. It was routine for police to tell the abuser to take a cold shower or take a walk around the block to calm down.

Danielle Watson, Center for Safety & Change’s Development Manager, received first shipment of masks from Nyack Mask Maker co-founder, Bill Batson

Today, Center for Safety & Change trains many businesses, non profits, schools including Police Academy on how to recognize domestic violence and on to manage this safely for all parties involved.

How much demand was there for your services when you started?

We started out with a 15 bed house, 24 hour rotary and a few concerned citizens ready to answer the phone. They brought board games to pass the time because they truly didn’t believe the demand was that great. On October 5, 1979, we officially opened the doors to our shelter and filled 11 out of the 15 beds. The second day the remaining beds were filled. And the phones have not stopped ringing since then.

Center For Safety & Change:

A story in shocking statistics

15 bed facility opened Oct. 5, 1979 and has been filled to capacity since the day after opening

24 hour a day hot-line starts at same time and has run continually for 350,400 hours

1,900 calls per year

Every 15 seconds: how often a woman is battered

1 in 4 women reports experiencing violence from a former or current intimate partner;

1 in 5 women report being raped in their life time

1 in 71 men report being raped in their life time

50% increase in likelihood of child abuse in home with battery

71% of pets in these homes are harmed or killed

Women who earn 65% or more of their
households’ income are more likely to be
psychologically abused than women who earn
less than 65% of their households’ income.

18% of female victims of spousal rape say
their children witnessed the crime.

Between 10 and 14% of married women will
be raped at some point during their marriages.

Only 36% of all rape victims ever report the
crime to the police. The percentage of married
women who report a spousal rape to the police is
even lower. Marital rape is the most underreported form of sexual assault.

In 2012, 924 women were killed by intimate partners.

40% of female murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

Almost half of intimate 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.

72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.

19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked.

66.2% of female stalking victims reported stalking by a current or former intimate partner.

Between 2005 and 2006, 130,000 stalking
victims were asked to leave their jobs as a
result of their victimization

500%: the increased likelihood of homicide for a women if a gun is present in a home where there is domestic violence.

Source: centerforsafetyandchange.org

The most important number: the 24hour hotline for victims of domestic violence:

(845) 634-3344

You can also call (845) 634-3344 to volunteer in 2018, volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000

You can also click here to donate or call 845.634.3391 to donate by credit card.

Last year, our volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000

What services do you currently provide to the victims of domestic violence and their families?

We have an emergency residential shelter that has 15 beds. On average, this shelter provides safe nights to about 100 victims of domestic violence on a yearly basis. In addition, we had to turn away close to 400 victims because there was no vacancy.

When this happens, we work with other sister agencies in other areas to provide housing options, as well as safety planning tactics to keep families safe. We help them think of options on staying with a family member, or friend, etc. Although the shelter is the heart of our agency, it only accounts for about 20% of the work that we do.

The bulk of the work is through our non-residential services. Center for Safety & Change’s Domestic Violence Non-Residential Services was developed and implemented specifically for domestic violence victims who do not require or desire residential placement.

Non-Residential services, include, but are not limited a 24/7 crisis hotline; individual and group counseling; support and empowerment groups; advocacy and accompaniment; safety planning; legal services and court assistance; information and referral services; community outreach and education; children’s services and school advocacy; education programs for professionals, for teens, and for others; transportation and translation services, as needed; and comprehensive crime victim services including assisting with applications to the New York State Office of Victim Services.

How has your organization grown over the years?

The Center has grown in so many ways. Our children and youth department has literally more than tripled in size starting out with a Director, Jean Roemer, who implemented Creative Arts Therapy. Before the program, we were seeing at maximum 100 children and youth on an annual basis. We see close to 500 children and youth, with staff of 6 employees – and there is a current waitlist of about 40 children.

We added our Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program in 1984 but added on our partnerships with Nyack Hospital (Montefiore Nyack) in 2003 and Good Samaritan Hospital in 2005. We have specific rooms in each Emergency Department dedicated in supporting victims of rape and sexual assault by our specially trained medical examiners.

The annual Fashion Sale Preview is held at the Hudson House of Nyack, who donate the food, service and restaurant every year ensuring that the Center for Safety & Change can maximize every fundraising opportunity

Our legal department consisted of two lawyers about three years ago and has literally quadrupled in size since 2016. The legal department has six attorneys including matrimonial, family, immigration and anti human trafficking lawyers, as well as four legal advocates and two paralegals. The legal department provides legal advice, assistance and court accompaniment for victims of violence and abuse. They help them fill out orders of protection, explain what their rights are and provide them with options.

May 2019 Night for Change Gala honorees Anita Kopacz, Mark Jacobs, and Yvonna Kopacz-Wright

What are some of the ways that women and children find out about your services?

We host trainings to youth in all of the high schools including all private schools. We host trainings to corporations and local businesses on a variety of issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence in the workplace, etc. We host many outreach events and attend many events in the community. In addition, we have 11 locations in the County. We recognize that there is a stigma that comes along with our home office on 9 Johnsons Lane in New City. A victim may feel intimidated or may not want someone to see them in that area. We strategically placed satellite offices throughout the County including Haverstraw, Nyack, Spring Valley to help preserve anonymity, confidentially and geographically availability.

Inside the Center for Safety & Change’s Emergency Shelter, which, for the protection of its residents, is located at an undisclosed location

Would you say that incidents of domestic violence are increasing or decreasing?

This is a tough question to answer. Although the number of victims we help annually has remained steady, the number of times we help victims achieve safety and seek services has increased. Last year alone, we helped close to 2,000 victims of gender-based violence, close to 30,000 times

I understand the 71% of pets in homes where domestic violence occurs are harmed or killed by their intimate partner. What does a victim do with their pet(s) when escaping violence and abuse?

We know our pets are family. In fact, the bond is so strong that 48% of domestic violence victims delayed leaving their intimate partner out of concern for their pets’ safety.

In partnership with the Hudson Valley Humane Society, Center for Safety & Change established the Paws for Safety program in 2011. This unique program temporarily places animal victims of domestic violence in a loving and confidential location while their owners make safe living arrangements and escape the abuse. Paws for Safety provides victims with the security of knowing their pets are safe and handled with care until they can be reunited. If you are in a relationship, where you and/or your pets are being abused, harmed and/or threatened, please call the Center’s 24-Hour Hotline 845-634-3344. No one deserves to live in fear of violence, abuse and trauma.

 40 Years of advancing Safety & Change

The doors to their Emergency Shelter opened officially on October 5, 1979 and a rotary phone was turned on. The first day 11 beds were filled out of 15. The second day the house was filled to capacity and the phones have not stopped ringing.

Today, their shelter remains a safe haven for thousands of children and families.

Your monthly donation ensures that the Center remains strong serving thousands of children and families escaping violence and abuse. As well, monthly donors will receive special benefits if the commitment is for five years of more.

You are helping to give the gift of safety and comfort to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and all crimes like Maritza and her three children.

Maritza and her family received support from the Center through counseling, support group, and safety planning to cope with trauma from years of experiencing emotional, verbal, physical and financial abuse.

Make your donation online here

For more information, please call Tracie McLee at 845-634-3391 or email tmclee@centersc.org

What impact has the #metoo movement had on your work?

We believe the #metoo movement has created a safe space to allow victims to come forward and tell their story and seek services.

How does the current climate towards immigrants impact your work?

A) Immigrant survivors are afraid to report crimes and seek the protection of the courts, and are more vulnerable to domestic violence and other crimes as a result. The reason for this fear is that immigration enforcement priorities no longer exist – during the Obama administration, people with more serious criminal histories were prioritized for removal and people who were simply out of status were not. ICE presence in courthouses has increased by 1700% and victims have been swept up in court raids.

Also, many victims want to bring their abusers to court to get an order of protection but do not want them deported. Many are afraid for fear of impact on the father of their children. For example, one of our domestic violence clients was recently arrested at the Ramapo Justice Court and detained – ICE knew she was the victim and still arrested her.

Elizabeth Santiago, Chief Executive Officer, Center for Safety & Change

B) Immigrant survivors are afraid to serve as witnesses for the same reasons above. We like to use voluntary witnesses in our trials and are being hampered in calling undocumented witnesses – we cannot give them the assurance we once did.

C. Immigrant survivors are more afraid to file for immigration status. Under former policies, if humanitarian applications were denied, the applicant simply reverted to being undocumented. Now, if a survivor’s application gets denied, they will be put into removal proceedings. Also, scrutiny of applications has become heightened and negative discretion is exercised far more harshly. For clients with children especially, they put a lot on the line. USCIS statistics reflect significant declines in filings.

I understand that you do outreach in Middle Schools. What is your message to young people?

Our message to young people is teaching them what healthy relationships look like, and defining what consent is. It is no longer no means no but yes means yes.

Playroom inside the Center for Safety & Change’s Emergency Shelter

What should a person do if they know of a friend or family member who is being abused?

They should call our 24-Hour Hotline at 845-634-3344. We can answer any questions or address any concerns.

What are some of the ways that they public can help. The public can help in many ways.

First, they can sign up to volunteer. There are many jobs, tasks that need to be done. Last year, our volunteers donated close to 12,000 hours of services, a cost savings of about $270,000. We encourage everyone to start changing social norms, let’s begin to create a safer space for victims to continue to come forward by believing them. The Center starts by believing victims. Finally, donate. From making a one time donation to becoming a monthly donor, your donation will continue to sustain our programs and services for generations to come. We also encourage friends of our agency to attend community and fundraising events.

This week’s sketch is by Juliet Craig, Craig, a student at Tappan Zee High School, was the 2014 winner of the Center for Safety & Change Student Art Competition. I saw her drawing displayed, along with other winners, in a hallway at the Center’s offices. Juliet perfectly captured the despondency one would imagine a victim of domestic violence must feel. If my column about the Center was to have an illustration, this was it.

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “The Other Pandemic Domestic Violence” © 2019 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: During COVID-19, Restaurant Mumbai Dreams Inspires

by Bill Batson

I recently saw Nausil Kumandan, owner of the newly opened restaurant, Mumbai Dreams, in the parking lot of Montefiore Nyack Hospital. He was delivering donated food to frontline health care workers.

A note attached to each box read:

Strength, Courage, Hope, Appreciation, Determination, Motivation, Patience, Perseverance, Our Community.

Originally it was for their cuisine, but now for their philanthropy, Mumbai Dreams inspires.

I’ve seen no mention, but a friend tells me you have donated a dinner to every person at Depew Manor.

Nausil Kumandan, owner, Mumbai Dreams

Shhhhhh, that’s a secret, it’s from the heart. My parents came from very humble beginnings; they struggled a lot in the early parts of
their life. There were times when they had no food and they had were very low income.

Hearing/feeling their stories has always inspired me to give back. It’s part of
life, we all have to support and have each others’ backs when we’re in a
tight spot. If my parents didn’t have that support I wouldn’t be here.

So I don’t advertise what is essential.

That being said, in today’s social media
environment, secrets travel fast so if my actions can inspire then the job is done.

How has the policy of social distancing impacted your business?

I’ve always been a social person thus having a dialogue with my customers is very
important in how I run my business. Even with the current environment my regulars and I still chat when they call to place an order. We’ve had to adjust and are focusing more on curbside and delivery service. My team is still intact but we’ve had to cut back on hours. It’s a tough time but the
community has been great; we’ve gotten a lot of support and an increase in new customers.

Have you submitted an SBA application disaster relief?

I have not submitted the application but am currently reviewing the requirements. It’s a very difficult time for Mumbai Dreams. We didn’t expect 6 months after our grand opening we would be forced to shutdown our dine-in operations. I’m confident the government relief efforts will add fuel to the industry and bring us back stronger than ever.

Nyack Nourishes

Nyack Nourishes has an important mission: To provide meals for the health care heroes working at Montefiore Nyack Hospital and the Nyack Community Ambulance Corps — while at the same time supporting local Nyack restaurants.

Nyack Nourishes will provide 50 individually boxed, full-course meals per day to our health care heroes. The food will be prepared and packaged by the hard-working people working at the restaurants in Nyack that we all treasure.

This initiative is headed up by a handful of local residents working with the support of the Nyack Chamber of Commerce, Nyack restaurants, Montefiore Nyack Hospital and the Nyack Community Ambulance Corp. A Go Fund Me page is now ready for contributions.

Click here to learn more or donateAll donations go straight to the local Nyack restaurants providing these meals.

Spread the word, and feel free to contact Annie Hekker Weiss or Susan Wilmink through the GoFundMe platform if you have any questions or would like to volunteer.  You can also contact the team through the Nyack Nourishes website, nyacknourishes.com

How has your experience been as one of the participants of Nyack Nourishes? How does it work?

I’m actually very excited to represent our community and support an initiative for our frontline. This is a very stressful time for hospitals and if providing a healthy meal can brighten a day, bring a smile or even show that we care then it’s mission accomplished. We are planning to offer a mix of 25 non-veg & 25 vegetarian healthy meals with a weekly change in menu. In addition, Nyack Nourishes is also supporting restaurants during this difficult time by providing donated funds from the community to pay for the meals. This is uncharted territory for many businesses thus having your community come out and support shows a united front.

When did your Mumbai Dream begin?

As soon as my Dad had his grand opening! I grew up in the business, it’s been part of my bloodline, my life, it’s my passion. I remember working weekends, taking orders, doing deliveries, counting my tips at the end of the night. It just brought me pure joy, watching how the restaurant functions. All the credit goes to my parents who taught me a lot about food; even today I can just sit in the kitchen and watch my Mom make my favorite dishes. She gets all the credit for Mumbai Dreams, as a good portion of the menu are her recipes.

What are your early memories of being in the family restaurants in Brooklyn?

We had two restaurants which ran for over 30 years. The first was in Cobble Hill and the second was in Park Slope, where we resided. I remember my lunch breaks as my elementary school was a block away, especially the chicken tandoori, cheeseburgers, masala fries, curry and the fragrant basmati rice my Dad would make.

On Tuesdays he would make a special Maharashtrian chicken curry which was my favorite, I can still remember the taste. Sorry I’m a foodie, so that’s pretty much what my early restaurant memories are about.

What are some of the enduring lessons you learned from the family business?

I always remembered how my Dad welcomed his customers. It was as if they were family or old friends. A customer would walk in with a smile and walk out with one. He would always remember customers’ favorite dishes, the spice level, and the preparation. His customer service was always next level and very rare to find in today’s time. He also had great vision and could see an empty water glass from afar, when a plate needed to be removed or when a refill on the basmati rice was needed. His vision was something I was always in awe of and till this day try to match.

How does the cuisine reflect Mumbai?

Two of the best culinary cities in the world in my opinion are New York and Mumbai. When I was planning the concept, I knew the food would be influenced by the region, the cooking techniques, the spices, and add in our homestyle recipes. I wanted my menu to reflect authentic Indian food which is hard to find today. Customers are always raving about the freshness they taste in our food, the spices, that’s the result of premium products with a mix of love and passion.

Is there any significance to the lantern that is part of your decor that I used for my sketch?

The candle holder or lantern has great significance to my parents upbringing and my visits back to India at a young age. We had very limited electricity in our village and would rely on candles or kerosene lanterns for lighting. I remember in each room, we would have a single lantern which didn’t give us the brightness of a light bulb but we made it work. In addition, we would use them to get around our village during night as we had no street lights.

Even today our village has sporadic outages, older folks bring out the lanterns while the youngsters use the iPhone flashlight!

How did you come to open your restaurant in Nyack?

I LOVE NYACK; it’s always been a part of my life. My family and I would frequently head up
north for weekend getaways and would travel via the Tappan Zee. I remember sitting in my Dad’s car gazing at the homes on the hills and telling my Mom one day we will live in this town. The Palisades mall was always a favorite destination to shop and we would save time to walk through the village, spending some time by the waterfront. Even today when I commute from Brooklyn I always have a moment of peace looking at the picturesque views while crossing the bridge. Nyack is filled with love, diversity and very family oriented which is very important. Even in present day, the community has become one and everyone is doing their part as we struggle through this dark cloud. That was what I wanted when sourcing locations for Mumbai Dreams.

How large is the Indian Community in Rockland?

I was surprised, but it’s a fairly large group from south India many of whom have become customers. I’ve got a soft spot for southern India, as my grandmother was born there and my chef is from Kerala. It’s next on my list of places to travel within India. I’m
finding the younger generation dining with us more and bringing their
parents along who really have appreciated our food. Indian parents approving
food from restaurants is a big thing so we are very grateful and appreciate the
continued support.

Are there any dishes that one might be surprised to find on your menu?

While we have a traditional north Indian /Maharashtrian menu, I’ve added a
creative “East meets West” section. It’s what I grew up eating, a mix of both
cultures. Our butter mac n’ cheese and tacos are very popular, in fact they
have become staples for many of our customers. I remember when first
discussing this menu with my chef he wasn’t very confident, but today he’s a
fan as well. Wait until we re-open the dining room, I have a handful of tricks
up my sleeve. It’s surprise a lot of people to see what I can do with
Indian food.

What’s your dream for Mumbai Dream?

I want Mumbai Dreams to be your first choice when choosing a dining experience. A place where you spend your special moments in life, a place that creates lifetime memories, where you know a good meal is waiting for you. A place where you can come with family, friends and forget about all the problems in the world and just enjoy fine dining…with free parking. Simply to be the best Indian restaurant in the World.

What would you like people to know about Mumbai Dreams?

Mumbai Dreams is a family-owned business offering traditional homestyle Indian cuisine. It’s a culinary journey that was inspired from family recipes, a dream that started at a young age, a passion that grew every day, a love for food. Mumbai Dreams is a thank you to Dawood Kumandan, my dad, who taught me so much, who led by example. It’s a hope, a wish and a prayer that he is looking down on me with pride, with that beautiful smile, knowing that he was my inspiration. It’s my way of telling him I love you and that I’ll take care of the family in his absence.

And now he has adopted the residents of Nyack, into the family, through me.

Mumbia Dreams offers contactless curbside pick-up and contactless free delivery.
Mumbai Dreams is located at 9 Ingalls Street, Nyack, NY 10960 (845) 643-8333 or mumbaidreamsnyack@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “During COVID-19, Restaurant Mumbai Dreams Inspire” © 2020 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: #Masks4All

by Bill Batson

Our region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. By yesterday, April 6th, Rockland County had recorded 119 deaths and 5,700 cases. In the face of this tidal wave of contagion, creatives in Nyack have enlisted to protect the front line.

Over 250 volunteers have formed NyackMaskMakers.com to protect health care workers from this microscopic, lethal threat. Since launching on March 20, we have collectively produced over 3,000 masks, provided primarily to Montefiore Nyack Hospital. We tripled our goal of 500 masks per week.

A global #masks4rall movement has shown that communities that practice universal face covering #flattenthecurve. Nyack has to find a way to support everyone in making or finding a free-homemade cloth face mask, while leaving manufactured masks for our health care workers.

Instantly iconic Nyack Mask Makers sign by the  inimitable Peter Cheney

Initially, our goal was to provide a quality home-made level 2 mask to health care workers. Now, we are exploring how to expand our production in light of this  from the Center for Disease Control on Friday, April 4:

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Kim Cross and Dolly Tassy of the Nyack Center observing the new CDC guidelines with face coverings by Nyack Mask Makers.

Countries, like Taiwan and the Czech Republic, that have achieved more the 80% participation in public face covering, have been able to more rapidly reopen their economies. If portions of the public can not make or obtain free cloth masks, the curve flattening critical mass can not be met. We need #masks4all in Nyack.

The weight of the loss of life, in our county, country and around the world is so enormous, a way forward feels uncertain. And still, the helpers rise, on porches, street corners, restaurants, laptops and in our case, with sewing machines.

Monterfiore Nyack Hospital President Dr. Mark Geller wearing a mask by Nyack Mask Makers.

To date, we have given masks to:

  • Montefiore Nyack Hospital
  • Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
  • Rockland Psychiatric Center
  • Blaisdell Addiction Treatment Center
  • Chemical Dependency Unit of Good Samaratan Hospital
  • Cardinal McCloskey Community services
  • Center for Safety and Change
  • Nyack Center
  • Bronx Lebanon
  • Flushing Hospital

The health care workers who risk their life every shift have two messages to the community that has stepped up to support them. One is thanks and two is… “please stay home and #flattenthecurve.”

Donna and I have witnessed that, like the virus, the volume of community effort has been growing exponentially. But in order to prevail, we must settle in for the long haul.

Nyack Mask Makers co-founders Donna Timm and Bill Batson

A Yale University study published April 1, 2020 argues if masks4all is embraced adopted, the virus could be stopped cold.

The effectiveness of the universal adoption of homemade cloth face masks in mitigating this public health crisis; we find that this policy could have very large benefits, but that it should be coupled with policies that protect and increase the availability of medical masks for frontline healthcare workers.

Recently, only half of the people I see outside the home are wearing masks.

We will be announcing a Mask4All plan with the Village of Nyack on Wednesday, April 8 at 11am on Facebook live, thanks to the social media services of Christine Gritmon.

“I cannot begin to tell you how many makers have expressed how grateful they are to have this opportunity to use their sewing skills at this time.”

They contribute to the community and feel they’re making a difference while coping with uncertainty like the rest of us,” said Nyack Mask Maker co-founder Donna Timm.

To learn visit nyackmaskmakers.com

For more information visit

Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Mask Makers

Nyack Sketch Log: Special COVID-19 Edition: Wash Them, Do Not Shake Them 

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Mask4all” © 2020 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center during COVID-19

by Bill Batson

On Wednesday, March 11, I showed up at Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, with flowers for my mother, Daisy. That same day, a world away in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The notice on the door that greeted me brought home our new reality: “out of an abundance of caution, all visitations are restricted.”

Millions of Americans who have a family member in assisted living or residential medical care confronted a similar note. The science tells us that these measures can #flattenthecurve of this infection, saving lives. But they also make the soul ache.

Many institutions have employed technology to shorten the gap created by social distancing. I recently got to Facetime with my mother. I could see in her expression that she enjoyed her first journey into cyberspace!

Nyack Sketch Log’s Bill Batson Facetimes with his mother, Daisy.

I asked Nyack Ridge owner Micheal Braunstein if anything in his personal or professional life prepared him for these trying times. “Living through 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy gave us a sense of what can happen out of the clear blue sky. Until then, we don’t know our capabilities. Everyday, I’m learning how amazing our staff and your aides are.”

Michael Braunstein with scissors, with George Hoehmann to his right and Edward Braunstein, and Village of Nyack Mayor Don Hammond to his left

Braunstein is a third generation nursing home operator. His grandfather bought a Nursing Home in the Bronx in 1956, serving as administrator. His grandmother was the cook. As a self-described nursing home brat, Michael would play bingo with the residents and serve tea. When Michael graduated from college, he took a position at a nursing home owned by his father, who had followed his father into the family business. “From those early years, I’ve learned that it’s important to communicate with the staff and residents. To try to understand what their needs are. For the residents, this is their home. You want to make them as comfortable as possible,” Braunstein said.

Michael Braunstein and Assemblymember Kenneth Zebrowski giving a citation to 102-year old Nyack Ridge resident Assunta Lombardi

Nyack Football Team with a Nyack Ridge logo on their uniforms

Village of Nyack Mayor Don Hammond can recite from memory the various events and local programs that Nyack Ridge is actively supporting. “Michael is a very impressive corporate citizen, said Mayor Hammond. “He didn’t call up and asked what we could do for Nyack Ridge. He called me to ask what they could do for the community.”

Braunstein has noted that the character of Nyack Ridge is shaped by a staff that includes members that have reported to work for decades. The facility manager and one of the receptionists has been on the job since the 1970s. At Nyack Ridge a staff of approximately 200 men and women work tirelessly to provide health care, food, housing and recreation up to 160 residents.

Village of Nyack Trustee, Elijah Reichlin-Melnick leaving a video greeting for residents and staff

Braunstein reports that spirits at Nyack Ridge are high during the pandemic induced lockdown. “The residents are doing fine. Really well. They are little antsy. They  miss their families. But we are doing our best. We are keeping them busy and entertained in settings that observe social distancing. We’ve developed hallway bingo and have a busy hand cart that goes room to room. We are keeping their thought’s positive and using Ipads to keep them in touch with their loved ones.”

Since taking the helm of Nyack Ridge in January 2018, Braunstein has built strong ties to the community.  Nyack Ridge has sponsored multiple events including the Great Nyack Get-Together, The African American Day Parade, and a breast health awareness fashion show with Montefiore Nyack Hospital.  Nyack Ridge also supports the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center, the Nyack Chamber of Commerce and Nyack football. Drawing on these networks, Braunstein has engaged some local artists to project a movie on an inflatable screen in the parking lot to break the monotony of the lockdown.

“We are all in this together. With god’s help and prayer, we will all get through this. We’ll see our families reunited.”

Godspeed and Amen that!

Read also:

Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Mask Makers

Nyack Sketch Log: Special COVID-19 Edition: Wash Them, Do Not Shake Them 

If you would like to help boost the spirit of the residents, send a short video greeting to the Director of Recreation, Marleny Liz at mliz@nyackridge.com. If you have a family member staying at Nyack Ridge and you want to schedule a Facetime chat, call Liz at (914) 536-5383.

Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is located at 476 Christian Herald Road, Valley Cottage. To learn more click here.

Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Ridge during COVIC-19” © 2020 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com 


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Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Mask Makers

by Bill Batson

On March 4, 2020, Business Insider warned that US medical workers needed 3.5 billion face masks if the coronavirus reached pandemic status. The country had 1% of that number then.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Organized by Donna Davies Timm and Bill Batson, Nyack Mask Makers is a community project providing masks to doctors, nurses and staff at Montefiore Nyack Hospital, as they serve Rockland County, New York, during the increased patient activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donna draws inspiration from her mother, who left her home in Dubin, Ireland during World War II to work in a sewing factory in Lincolnshire England. Timm, President of the Nyack Art Collective, is answering her generation’s call to battle, this time against COVID-19, and like her mother, provisioned with a sewing machine. Timm has helped launch this crowd sourced sewing circle that can produce up to 500 masks per week for Montefiore Nyack Hospital.

Donna and I realized we needed something flash mob sized…but with socially distant participants, to help blunt the local impact of the severe scarcity of medical supplies in our country. I knew Donna and several members of her family from my first Flash Sketch Mob in 2012. Nyack Mask Makers is also a Timm-family affair, with daughter Bonnie and husband Bob building websites and organizing outreach respectively. With a few Facebook posts, emails and phone calls, Nyack Mask Makers has connected 40 work stations in 4o homes across the region. With some guidance from Montefiore Nyack Hospital, we can make Level 2 masks that will help relieve stress on our life-saving health care system.

“We give our profound thanks to the Nyack Mask Makers and the amazing community in Nyack and throughout Rockland County who are rallying behind the Hospital’s dedicated staff and supporting the critical work that is being done to serve our community,” said Mark Geller, MD, President & CEO of Montefiore Nyack Hospital. “Your generous donations of food and supplies are inspiring and deeply appreciated. Your efforts and support are being received in the same spirit in which they are being given. Thank you.”

Donna’s support for the hospital is deeply personal. “It has been just under 5 years since I was a patient myself at Nyack Hospital with Stage 3 Breast cancer. I literally owe my life to the outstanding medical staff at Nyack Montefiore Hospital. I am incredibly fortunate to be in the position to assist Bill Batson and organize the Nyack Mask Makers. I am honored to give back a token of my heartfelt appreciation in this way,” Donna continued.

Our prototype mask was reviewed by the Infection Preventionist at Nyack Montefiore. We provide participants with a template pattern, materials list, elastic and arrange pick up & delivery of completed masks.

If you’d like to learn more about our efforts, visit nyackmaskmakers.com.

For additional information about supporting Nyack Mask Makers, please email Donna Davies Timm at Donna@nyackmaskmakers.com

All other inquiries regarding this project, please contact Bill Batson at Bill@nyackmaskmakers.com.

Let’s FLATTEN THE CURVE! Stay home, stay safe, and support our health care workers.

Nyack Mask Makers include:

Judy DePalma
Robyn Donohue-Martignoni
Elmwood Playhouse
Vera Etienne
Sheryl LeRoy
Tamar MacCallan-Finkelman
Suzette Martin
Kathleen, Glenn, Sera and Reilly Maier
Anne Marie Mot
Phoebe Rossiter
Donna Timm
Bonnie Timm
Bob Timm
Maria Luisa Whittingham

I launched a GoFundMe for Nyack Mask Makers to support our production material costs.

We have 40 participants in our Flash Sew Mask Mob and a goal of making 500 masks per week.

The materials we need are elastic, fabric and ziplocks.

For $100, we can get elastic for 500 masks.

For $10 we can get enough fabric for 15 masks.

Join us!

We are looking for anyone who lives in the greater Nyack area who can operate a sewing machine. If you know anyone who has a sewing machine or several, please direct them to this site at NyackMaskMakers.com.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Mask Makers”  © 2020Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: Special COVID-19 Edition: Wash Them, Do Not Shake Them

People who do not follow pubic health guidance on social distancing and hand washing become the delivery system that COVID -19 uses to hunt down vulnerable victims: someone’s parent or grandparent.

As of Monday, March 16, COVID-19 had infected 3,244 Americans in 49 states, killing 61. The chart that our nation’s stage in spread most resembles shows exponential growth that could claim thousands of lives. Still without testing, something all other advanced democracies managed to deploy, we brace for the brunt of the infection blindfolded.

We must all shelter in place. Cavalier travel is over. Each trip from your home for food, or fuel or medical care, or essential service, most be conducted as if your life, or the life of someone you might infect, depended on it.

At the end of this pandemic, we will find an economy, and a presidency, laid low. Our health care system is being humbled by the strain this stress test has only begun to administer. But when we get the “All Clear,” we should be able to greet each other, in a post-handshake world, with a nod of satisfaction, that we made the sufficient sacrifice to flatten the curve of this tidal wave of infection.

Other generations on our soil have been asked to volunteer for combat, endure rationing, hide a runaway slave, or boycott a bus line for a year. Today, nurses are being asked to put on hazmat suits and draw blood that could be contaminated, cashiers collect currency from hands that may contain the virus, parents incorporate childcare into their telecommute and men and women who have built small business are being asked to close their doors, not knowing if the length of being shuttered will prevent them from ever being able to open their doors again.

This epic, global shared experience requires restrained movement and basic hygiene from all of us. We’re being asked to couch surf and wash our hands. Stay home, save lives! Don’t be super spreader. Twenty seconds of wetting, lathering, scrubbing, rinsing and drying, halts this deadly contagion. Never have so many, owed so much to so few – seconds.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Wash them, do not shake them”  © 2020Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: Catnip Nation

by Bill Batson

In America, feral cats need more than nine lives to survive. While concerned animal advocates seek to employ enlightened ways to manage feral cat colonies, municipal policies to protect discarded domesticated cats have gone, pardon the pun, to the dogs.

Tina Traster, managing editor of the Rockland County Business Journal, has found her most vigorous voice as a documentary film maker exposing the plight of forgotten pets.

Catnip Nation

A film by

Tina Traster

Catnip Nation is an hour-long documentary that explores the dichotomy between our beloved, cherished pet cats, and the equal number who live on the streets.

The ASPCA puts the number at 90 million apiece. On top of that, 1.4 million cats are euthanized in shelters annually – at a rate of 70%.

At a festival screening or on DVD, which is available from major retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, or visit catnipnation.com

Catnip Nation’s festival circuit continues. You can see a screening on March 29, at 3p at the Garden State Film Festival at the Asbury Hotel, in Asbury Park, NJ.

Nyack Sketch Log sat down with Traster to learn about the issue and her film, Catnip Nation, that is currently on the festival circuit and available on DVD.  If you keep reading, your curiosity won’t kill any, but may save, some cats

Feral cats are described in your film as neither domesticated or wild. Is that accurate?

Yes. Feral cats are typically cats that have lived on the “streets” for too long — this could mean a kitten as young as eight weeks for lack of socialization. These cats live in colonies — they can be a few or many — and the real problem is reproduction. A female cat starts breeding at less than a year old, and can have several litters in a lifetime. That’s why TNR is critical.

What is TNR?

TNR stands for Trap Neuter Return. Literally it means to trap ferals. Get them fixed and recuperated and vaccinated, and return them to their colonies. The reason for the “R” is that many ferals cannot be socialized, although many of us cat lovers have lured a feral and turned him into a couch companion. But it takes a lot of time and work. The important thing about returning a cat to its place is that cats will go looking for their territory. You can just drop them in a field.

What is life like inside a cat colony?

In the best-case scenario, a colony has a caretaker, and that caretaker has “TNRed” the cats, which means they’ve been fixed and vaccinated against rabies. The colony caretaker typically feeds once or twice a day and in colder climes, provides some kind of makeshift shelter made of wood, plastic or cardboard. Unfortunately many feral cats die from the cold, and most kittens in a litter born in the winter months do not make it.

Would cats in a colony die without concerned citizens providing water and food?

A Darwinian question. Some will survive. Many will ultimately die. It’s man’s (and woman’s) instinct to help cats living on the street. Those who are helped along probably have a better chance of survival. Often times a caretaker will intervene when a cat is ill and get it medical treatment.

Can a colony get too big?

One could say that every colony is too big, and ultimately it would be great to eradicate this problem. The smaller the colony the more manageable. The key is TNR because it winnows down the size of the colony and disrupts the breeding cycle.

Who are some of the people that you’ll meet in Catnip Nation?

The main heroes of Catnip Nation are Stanley Lombardo, who used politics to fight for his feral colony, Ken Salerno, who fought the Seaside Heights government when it disbanded a successful TNR program, and Sue and Ray Jones, an older Kansas couple who were fined and nearly jailed for feeding ferals, and who took their case to the appeals court. No spoilers on how that turned out.

Are there any analogous animal populations to a cat colony?

Not really. Can’t think of another domesticated animal (cats domesticated themselves 10,000 years ago) who live with us and on their own.

What have you been doing in the county to advocate for cats?

For several years, I’ve worked with elected officials and the community to teach the value of TNR. We had luck in the Villages of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw, where enlightened mayors understood the problem and passed legislation. Sadly, Rockland County has been resistant to deal with this problem otherwise at the political level.

Is it illegal to feed feral cats in Rockland County?

There are no “regressive” ordinances banning the feeding of feral cats that I know of in Rockland. However, because there are only supportive TNR laws in the Villages of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw, the rest of the county essentially operates in a gray zone.

Do you have cats?

At the moment, we have four.

What are their names and what kind are they?

Mimi, Leo, Jacques, and Pascal — three American shorthairs and one Maine Coon mix. Mimi came from the streets. Leo was found in a barn, Jacques was adopted at Hi Tor and Pascal came from a rescue group.

What is the subjects of you other documentary?

My former documentary was This House Matters, which shone a light on the vulnerability of Dutch stone historic houses in Rockland County
What’s your day job?

I continue to make films, but I also am the Editor and Publisher of Rockland County Business Journal, a 24/7 news site.

How is Catnip Nation being received?

It’s been wonderful. We’ve won three awards on the festival circuit: Best Doc at the Big Apple Film Festival and the Hoboken Film Festival, and Audience Award at the Kansas International Film Festival. We’ve screened at six festivals and have two more on tap: The Garden State Film Festival on March 29th at 3 pm at The Asbury Hotel in New Jersey, and later this summer at the New Hope Film Festival.

How did you fund Catnip Nation?

We had two executive producer, Ron Sherman and the late Lynn Boone from Piermont (who recently passed away). We also ran several fundraising campaigns and raised several rounds of capital.

Have you always been a cat person?

I have always had an incredible empathy for animals — from the smallest bug to the most majestic creatures. I think, in part, I see them as voiceless — needing our help. But I also view animals as a purer version of humans — driven by instincts, love, sentient needs. They are the purer forms of us.

Were you ever a dog person?

Yes!  My first “baby” was a dog I loved more than rainbows. When he died, a piece of me died too. Oddly, a kitten saved me, and that kitten led to another and another, and before I knew it, more. Cats are like that. Contagious.

There will be a fundraiser brunch to benefit Four Legs Good and T-N-R efforts.

March 15, 2020
12pm – 4pm
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel
$40 per person

Mayor Michael F. Kohut – Village of Haverstraw, & Mayor Robert D’Amelio – Village of W. Haverstraw will be honored for their extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of community.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Catnip Nation”  © 2020Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: The Rock ‘n’ Rollers

by Bill Batson

As generations of teenagers could tell you, there are few therapeutic interventions as powerful as a Fender guitar, a few friends, an amp and an audience. Music for Life’s Jeffrey Friedberg has figured this out, and the band created from his workshops, The Rock ‘n’ Rollers are taking their positive results on the road.

While music is magic for children of all needs, the populations that Jeffrey serves at his creative arts therapy program on Depew Avenue have shown extraordinary progress during practice and live performance sessions. Young people who have struggled with loud, crowded spaces and social interaction are now commanding center stage like rock stars. Before an A-lister sits in on a session, making a ticket price out of reach, I suggest you check out The Rock ‘N’ Rollers at their next gig at the Nyack Center on Sunday, March 8 at 4p.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the Rock ‘n’ Rollers and their manager/creative arts therapist, Jeffrey Friedberg.

The Rock ‘n’ Rollers

live in Concert!

On Sunday, March 8th at 4p, you can see the Rock ’n’ Rollers live on stage at the Nyack Center.

These 6 young adults, who rock the world with the joy and inspiration, have performed throughout Rockland County over the last 5 years.

The Nyack Center is located at 58 Depew Ave

Suggested donation $5 per person.

Reserve you tickets with Jeffrey Friedberg at info@musicforlifecenter.com or (845) 642-0859 or pay at the door cash or check

Testimonial from a family member:

“The best thing about Rock ‘n’ Rollers has been the friendships. Finding close social connections for special needs teens is not easy. Ties that no longer need parental help to facilitate. The chances are high they will be friends for life.

Testimonials the band:

  • “Being in the band makes me feel happy. When I perform I feel loved by the audience.  Jeffery encourages me to be my best.”
  • “I enjoyed music my whole life; now I get to perform in a band and make people happy. I get to sing and not just play guitar and made a ton of friends. We all get along and music is important to young individuals like us.”
  • “I like singing in the band and playing the bongos and playing the piano. I think The Rock ’n’ Rollers are happy to see me in the Bossy Frog studio. I am happy to see them.”
  • ” I like playing music with my friends.  I like that we all suggest songs, and that some of us like rock ‘n’ roll songs, and some like slow music – ballads.
    It’s nice to see my friends every Tuesday, and after that we go out.”

Who are The Rock and Rollers?

The Rock ’n’ Rollers are a band of 6 young adults who perform rock and pop music. They rehearse once per week for 90 minutes at Music For Life Creative Arts Therapy PLLC.

The Rock ’n’ Rollers started in 2016, but most of the current group of 6 musicians have been together for 4 years. They perform in the community once per month. They have performed at the Palisades Center, The Great Nyack Get Together in Nyack’s Memorial Park, Rittershausen Theater at the Old Nyack High School, The Whiskey Kitchen, Lynch’s Restaurant, Joe and Joe’s Restaurant in Nyack, Tappan Zee High School, for the Sinead’s Green Heart Foundation as well as other venues. They opened twice for grammy award winning Dan and Claudia Zanes.

What led to the formation of The Rock n’ Rollers

As a music therapist for over 20 years, I knew that a band offered participants an opportunity to share their love of music with others, make friends and learn how to work together as a group.

The band named themselves! For their first year and half they were called the “Tuesday Rock Band” as that’s when they rehearsed. After a years and a half of playing together and their first few performances, I asked them what they wanted to be called. They took several months to ponder this and, on their own, came up with “The Rock ’n’ Rollers.

When and Where was their first concert?

Their first concert was at Music For Life Creative Arts Therapy in Nyack in 2016. They performed in front of friends and family. Their first public performance was at The Whiskey Kitchen in Valley Cottage in late 2016. The Whiskey Kitchen opened their doors to all members of Music For Life Creative Arts Therapy to have a “music sharing day” there. Since then, we have performed at The Whiskey Kitchen twice per year.

How do audiences react to their performances?

Audiences are filled with joy at their performances. The Rock ’n’ Rollers have a big fan base that includes friends, family, teachers as well as fans they have picked up from people hearing them. People sing and dance along. There are many cheers. It’s quite an amazing experience. People also purchase many of their swag including T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts.

What are the therapeutic benefits of playing an instrument?

Learning to play an instrument can help build many skills including concentration, focus, short and long term memory, fine and gross motor skills, and self-expression and regulation. When we play music we are engaging many different areas of our brains. We are using motor, emotional, and cognitive skills. We are learning how to express our feelings and focus our attention. We are learning how to manipulate our fingers and breath. We are using short and long-term memory. We are engaging in a teaching relationship with another person.

How are those benefits impacted by performing in a band?

Learning to play music with other people involves learning how to listen, cooperate, give and receive feedback, present oneself in public, join with others, assert self, take turns, and share. When we are in a band, we have a responsibility to others to learn and play our part. Everybody has a different role to play.

We have to learn how to practice on our own, and then rehearse and perform with others. We have to learn how to manage our feelings in order to work towards a common goals while maintaining our individuality.

Being in a band is also an opportunity to make lasting friendships. Research shows that when we sing together we release more social bonding hormone, oxytocin, and less stress hormone, cortisol, than when just talking together. Being in a band with others helps people form intimate caring relationships.

The Rock ’n’ Rollers have each grown tremendously as individuals, as a group and have built a huge caring and supportive community of family, friends and fans. When they perform, audiences are consistently reminded to focus on what people can do, rather than what they have difficulty doing.

The “band” also helps bring people together. This includes the band members, their families and the community.

Are there other groups like the Rock n Rollers?

I have led other performance-type of groups in other music therapy settings, but none with the cohesion and joy that this group consistently demonstrates. I have also seen videos of other wonderful groups similar to the Rock ’n’ Rollers. But there is something remarkable about this group as they are a wonderful collection of passionate and talented musicians with unique, interesting and fun personalities with a passion and talent for making and sharing their music. And they truly care about each other as well as with sharing their music with others.

What are some of the crowd favorites?

There are so many crowd favorites that it’s hard to pin down any one song. Most of the band members sing, so we try to give as many of them opportunities to have the spotlight each show. But even those who don’t take a lead on vocals shine on their particular instruments.

Some of the real crowd pleasers are:

Living On a Prayer
Heather Song (an original by one of the guitarists)
Sweet Child of Mine
I Love You Like a Love Song
Yellow Submarine
Crocodile Rock

But there are many other songs that they play that people love.

What’s next?

The band is interested in expanding its roster of venues and audiences. This spring they will perform at the Rockland Center for the Arts for the first time on June 13th. The March 8th show at The Nyack Center is their biggest concert where they are the featured performer. Every time they perform they get asked to play at new venues and they hope to continue to share their love of music throughout the Hudson Valley.

They have started to increase the complexity of their musical arrangements. Vocally, they now sometimes have 4 singers singing at the same time doing different parts. The band recently had a 11 1/2 year old saxophone player sit in with them and they are excited about adding this element to their music.

Any plans for a tour or an album?

The Rock ’n’ Rollers are currently on a 2019-2020 tour with one show per month. It is a local tour as many of them are still in school or programs during the weekdays.

Many of the band members have been asking for an album! They hope to work on one soon. But there is a film in the works!

We’ve heard about a documentary. When is it coming out?

ArtsRock, under the direction of Elliott Forrest is currently making a documentary about the band. Elliott was so inspired and moved by their performances that he wanted to share this with others. Elliott and his crew have been filming the band throughout the year. You will be the first to know when the film is ready for release!

Tell me about Music For Life?

My philosophy is that music is a uniquely human activity that helps us throughout our lifespans to grow as individuals, to make and manage relationships and to build community. As a music therapist, I focus on the process of music making, rather than the product. I use music to help children, teens and adults in all areas of their lives, not just musically.

I have been a board-certified music therapist since 1994 and I am also a NY State licensed creative arts therapist (LCAT). I have worked in hospitals, day treatment programs and schools. I started Music For Life Creative Arts Therapy PLLC in 2015 in order to provide music therapy services to children, teens and adults in Rockland County with a variety of needs and challenges.

Music For Life Creative Arts Therapy currently provides music lessons and therapy to over 150 people weekly in Rockland County. We have 4 staff and provide music therapy and lessons at 4 sites. Our main office is in Nyack. We also run the music therapy program at the Rockland Conservatory of Music where we provide a variety of music therapy and lessons. In addition, we provide music therapy at 2 school sites.

We provide one to one and group musical experiences that help participants learn, grow and develop functional as well as musical skills. We use music to help with social-emotional growth, cognitive skills, speech and language skills, motor skills as well as with learning how to play instruments.

We also have an active musical theater program that serves elementary school age, Middle and High School and adults. We just started a Middle/High School Chorus as well.

And how about the music of Jeffrey Friedberg?

In addition to Bossy Frog Band, I am in a bluegrass band called The Crusty Gentlemen.

For more info and to reserve tickets to the March 8th show please contact Jeffrey Friedberg:
email: info@musicforlifecenter.com
phone: (845) 642-0859

To learn more about Music for Life, click here.

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Rock ‘N” Rollers”  © 2020Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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Nyack Sketch Log: Bibsy Author Brenda Ross

by Bill Batson

Meet Brenda Ross

Brenda Ross will conduct a book talk and signing on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 1pm at the Orangeburg Library, located at 20 Greenbush Rd, Orangeburg, NY 10962.

Brenda will be introduced by Nyack Sketch Log author and illustrator Bill Batson

Women of Leadership & Vision Brunch

Brenda will present a memoriam for the Historical Honoree, Toni Morrison at the Nyack Center’s annual Women of Leadership & Vision Brunch on March 14, 2020 from 10a-12 (doors open at 9:30a). Hon. Nita Lowey, Ginny Norfleet & Jill Warner will be given this year’s honors. The Nyack Center is located at the 59 Depew Avenue at the corner of South Broadway. Click here for tickets.

Toni Morrison: a Retrospective

In her capacity as a Trustee of the Historical Society of the Nyack, Brenda is curating an exhibition on the life of Toni Morrison that will be on display from March 28 through July 25 at the society’s museum located at 50 Piermont Avenue, behind the library.

Bibsy


In Brenda Ross’  historical novel, Bibsy’s life changes forever when she falls in love after a chance meeting in a Harlem bar in 1952. The tranquil, free-spirited lifestyle she casually enters into with Jake Turner collides with intractable memories of a difficult past, a new community fated for development and heartbreaking loss.

This multifaceted and riveting historical novel gives greater insight into the complexity of African American lives. With New York State’s major road and bridge construction in the background, rural enclaves become casualties of suburbanization.

 

Imagine a writer so determined to attend a workshop to hone her craft, she’d accelerate the weaning of her child. Sometimes the backstory of a book has as many compelling characters, including the author, as the narrative itself. Brenda Ross’ first novel, Bibsy, would not exist without a phalanx of midwives and muses. The co-parents of her prose include her daughters who grew up along side the 34-year literary journey, the women whose lives inspired the storyline, and those who served as editor and academic advisor.

It will take another novel to tell the full story of the making of Bibsy. But for now, here is her Nyack Sketch Log treatment. For those who want to meet and speak with the author, Brenda will be at the Orangeburg Library on Saturday, February 29 from 1-2p  for a book talk and signing.

When did you know you were a writer?

In 1980, when I was standing in the hallway of Letitia Grierson’s campus dorm room at Skidmore College getting positive feedback from a few pages I had written that evening. Grierson was leading a writing workshop. Everyone at Skidmore held her in such high regard, so I figured there must be “something” there worth pursuing when she acknowledged my talent. She taught me the craft of writing, and to be constantly open to refining it.

How did you learn about the workshop?

I learned about the workshop through an ad in Ms. Magazine that I came across in the late 1970s. What caught my attention was the title “How to turn family histories into fiction.” The workshop title so resonated with me I knew I had to be there. The workshop was offered by Letty. I knew something was brewing inside me; I just didn’t know what.

Letty eventually became my editor, then my friend. We didn’t always agree, but more importantly, we respected each other’s opinions.

How would you describe Letty’s method?

Letty was first and foremost an editor, which is what I paid her to do from the beginning. I still have her correspondence including receipts for $15/hr. However we never worked with an outline. She was happy accepting whatever pages I presented each week. She wasn’t pushy and never “suggested” anything.”

Most importantly, throughout our years of working together, she only tried to steer the storyline twice. And because it had been so infrequent, l gave her suggestions careful consideration; I agreed with one suggestion and not the other. In both instances I believe I made the right choice.

Who else informed or inspired Bibsy?

Mayra Bloom was the other person integral to Bibsy because she saw academic value in the writing and research I’d done and helped me use it towards a BA degree in creative writing from SUNY Empire  State College.  She was also responsible for me being enrolled in the Sarah Lawrence College writing course where I was able to complete Bibsy.

Who was Bibsy?

Bibsy was the name of one of my aunts. She was one of my mother’s younger siblings who grew up in a Catholic orphanage. Because she was outspoken and opinionated and didn’t conform to familial or social norms for women of her period, as a child she commanded my attention. As a writer, I wanted to use the essence of who she was to explore a possible character.

How long did you work on Bibsy?

I worked on Bibsy off and on, mostly off, from 1981 until I took my sister Evelyn’s advice and self-published in 2015. I kept putting the manuscript down, including about 10 years after Letty died in 1991, but the story kept calling me back, demanding to be told and would not leave me alone. It stayed in my psyche.

Bibsy

What role did your daughter, Tasha, play in the creation of Bibsy?

In order to attend the Skidmore workshop, I had to find child care for Tasha, who was just six-months old and my eldest daughter, Nicole. (Mercifully, my mom held down the fort while I was away.) So Tasha and Bibsy are almost the same age. Tasha has lived with this story in the background her entire life, and thankfully has always embraced it and encouraged me.

Even to the point of arranging a reading of one of the scenes in the book at a downtown NYC cafe by a SAG actor, as part of a production requirement for her Masters in Playwrighting degree from Columbia University. She also has read several versions of the story and took the fabulous cover photo during a walk we took along the Hook Mountain trail.

Ross listening to Toni Morrison read in Nyack’s Memorial Park (to the left of the photogrpaher)

Who are some of your favorite writers?

I don’t have a “favorite writer” but there are some works of writers I admire for different reasons. Obviously I’m very interested in Toni Morrison’s thought process, character development, scene selection, and overarching themes. My favorite works of hers are Beloved and The Bluest Eye. That James Baldwin dared to write a love story choosing the setting of an abandoned building (If Beale Street Could Talk) influenced my daring to attempt to use The Beach in the same way. Afro-6 by Hank Lopez began my reading odyssey. I loved that he just jumped into the action and kept my attention throughout.

What were some of the books that informed your local history research?

Reading local history, incorporating the African American version, and conducting oral histories inform my writing. You have to meld them together because there’s rarely a single source in which it all resides. I belonged to the Rockland Historical Society for years and received their monthly South of the Mountains publications. I joined the African American Historical Society in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they met at St. Charles AME Zion Church in Sparkill. Spent a lot of time in the local history room of the Nyack Library. And I’ve conducted a number of oral histories locally, all rich in details that would have never been captured any other way.

l.-r. Evelyn Nichols, Nicole Ross, me, Mayra Bloom, Tasha Ross At my graduation from SUNY Empire, spring 2000 at RCC

What gets recorded matters, and it begins with our own family histories that rarely get into “official” documents. That’s why we must take responsibility ourselves and get it done.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

The best advice I can give to aspiring writers is to read. I believe avid readers become critical readers, and within that process if there’s a story burning for expression it will materialize.

Brenda Ross photo: Collette Fournier

Bibsy Cover Photo: Tasha Ross

An artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Bibsy Author Brenda Ross”  © 2020Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.

The Nyack Sketch Log is sponsored each week by Weld Realty.
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