What's Happening This Week in
Downtown Jamaica
Yesterday we sent our weekly e-newsletter out and did not include important information about private grants for Small businesses that have just become available. Please reference the ' Weekly Business Grants and Loan Updates ' section below for additional information.
Friendly Reminder

For now, our emails are structured with business information on top, and general community information below. This week be sure to check out our new listing of grants available for businesses (first article) and new ideas to pass the time and be your best self while sheltered in place at home (fourth article).

We want to add some joy to your day, so send us a pic and some inspirational words to share with your fellow Jamaica neighbors via our social media and we’ll ship the first three respondents an “I Love Jamaica Ave” coffee mug (as soon as it is safe for us to return to our office).
Weekly Business Grants and Loan Updates

We continue to actively monitor loans and grants available to help businesses weather the COVID-19 situation. Here are a few updates since our last e-blast: 

  • The new Federal Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) technically went live last Friday. However, you may have personally experienced difficulties applying for this loan or heard various stories in the media that small businesses were being told that applications were not yet available by their banks. What we know at this moment is that many banks are accepting applications; however, there are still many issues that banks are trying to work through with the Feds in order to implement these loans. Reports are that many, but not all, PPP participating banks require loan applicants to be existing customers. So if you have a bank with whom you regularly do business, you may have more luck getting into the queue by approaching them first. We will continue to monitor this situation and report back to our business community. In the meantime, we advise you to reach out to a free business counselor via NYC’s Department of Small Business Services, Queens Economic Development Corporation or the Federal Small Business Administration to receive additional advice on how to identify alternative lenders if your regular bank is not offering these loans.

Report Back : Are you a business that had luck applying for one of these loans (or conversely, a disappointing experience?) Please email us and let us know. We are trying to keep track of how our local business community is faring so that we can report back to City and State executives.
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (“EIDL”) provides small businesses and non-profits with low-interest loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing due to COVID-19. The EIDL application went live last week. Now, the EIDL program is also providing advances (“emergency grants”) up to $10,000 that must be distributed by the federal Small Business Administration within three days. EIDL FAQ here. Apply for the emergency grant advance and larger loan here.  

Helpful Webinars for Businesses

Support Jamaica Avenue's Essential Retail

At least 35 of our local businesses are considered “essential” and therefore are still open. If possible, please support these brave workers and your neighborhood economy by buying local when making food or essential purchases. As of our last poll, Jamaica BID's “open” list included 16 eateries and 19 additional businesses, including, but not limited to: Health and Comfort Pharmacy , Jackpot Savings , our local grocer Food World , the UPS Store , and Original Herbal Remedies . Almost all of our open restaurants, plus seven of our other essential stores offer delivery. If you know of a business that has closed during this time, please send us an email at covid-19@jamaicacenter.org . You can visit the full list on our website here .  
Community Resources for
Individuals and Families
Things to Do At Home During Social Distancing 
Last week we provided a list of ideas people could do to pass the time at home. This week we’re providing some fresh inspiration.

  • To Feel Strong: Blink Fitness located at 163-02 on Jamaica Avenue is offering daily online workouts here. Once COVID-19 is over, please consider becoming a member at their brick and mortar gym located on The Ave. 

  • To Stay Sharp: Queens Library has created video conferences for health chats, author talks, guided meditation and art history discussions. Learn more here. (The library has also launched Brainfuse, an online learning platform that offers live one-on-one tutoring, homework help, career coaching, resume assistance and citizenship prep for free.)
  • We’re also excited to hear that the NY Writers Coalition is now offering Virtual Creative Writing Sessions! These sessions are free and open to writers of any experience level. The schedule runs Saturday through Thursday and is accessible through this link. NPR has also compiled a list of virtual concerts to watch while New York is on pause. To access the list visit here.

  • To Keep the Kids Entertained: Keiko Studios is now offering a free Virtual Music class. Learn more here. Little hands may enjoy partnering with their grown-ups to bake Ginger Snaps with this recipe provided by NYC’s First Lady. Coming down the pike—our friends at Kings Manor Museum say they’re working on some additional entertainment and home school digital goodies. We’ll connect you to those as soon as they’re ready. Finally, for parents who may have children worried about Covid-19, here’s a guide offered by the City to comforting your children regarding this situation.

  • To Maintain Inner Peace: Access free evidence-based meditation techniques courtesy of Headspace.com, free for now for New Yorkers. Link here.

  • To Keep Connections: When we’re not working some of our own JBID staff members have discovered the joy and ease of playing the ol’ fashioned game of Bingo over Zoom with friends and family. There are several apps out there that allow you to download virtual bingo cards and bingo ball shuffling mechanisms.

  • To Prepare for Your Next Career: The City's Workforce1 Career Center launched a Virtual Center to help New Yorkers prepare for, and connect to, jobs across New York City's five boroughs and in every sector. To access this resource call 718-960-2458 or visit here.
COVID-19 Health Notes

  • Per the City of New York, emergency rooms are for emergencies only: If you're experiencing mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms, the best thing you can do for yourself and others is to stay home. Monitor your health and reach out to your doctor after 3-4 days if you have shortness of breath.  

  • New York City’s Family Justice Centers are still available by phone to provide vital services for survivors of domestic and gender-based violence, including legal consultations, counseling sessions, safety planning, case management, and FJC updates. For emergencies, call 911. NYC’s 24 hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-621-4673
Food Access During COVID-19

If you or someone you know is in need of food, please visit the NYC Emergency Food Assistance Program or call the Emergency Food line at 1-866-888-8777 . Learn more here or text ‘NYC FOOD’ or ‘NYC COMIDA’ to 877-877 to find a location. ( View the full Twitter thread for translations in multiple languages )

For NYC Students : Grab-and-go is now available for three meals a day by the New York City Department of Education from 7:30 AM to 1:30 PM. ANY student can pick up breakfast and lunch at ANY school building. Learn more and find a location here .

Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center : To help connect community members in need with food resources during this challenging time, the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center has created a database of food resources for each NYC neighborhood. For more information on the Jamaica location, visit here .

SNAP Recipients : New Yorkers can use their SNAP benefits to order food online. For more information please visit here .
How Can I Help?

  • New York Times Neediest Cases Fund
  • The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund has begun a special Covid-19 Relief campaign through GoFundMe Charity to help those affected by the virus. The fund will collect donations and give the proceeds to: Feeding America; First Book; the NYC Covid-19 Response and Impact Fund, established by New York Community Trust; and World Central Kitchen. Donate here.

  • NYC Well is experiencing a surge in calls, texts and chats from New Yorkers seeking emotional support, information and referral to ongoing behavioral health services during this COVID-19 pandemic. They are looking to expand their dedicated team of counselors and peer support specialists with volunteers. Volunteers could work remotely and would receive all appropriate training. Please consider this opportunity for yourself or share it with your networks. Learn more to volunteer.
Protect Your Finances

Con Edison reminds customers to remain aware of would-be scammers during the Coronavirus emergency. Tips on how to avoid being scammed by those posing as utility workers can be found here .  

Scammers may trick consumers into believing they are applying for federal relief for Coronavirus. Read some tips by Attorney General Leticia James to ensure you protect yourself.  
Information for Essential Workers (and a new Essential Worker Job Opportunity)

Critical Workers needing care for their children can learn more about regional enrichment centers here , which provide care and hot meals for youth.  

In partnership with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Department of Transportation , Citibike has launched the Citi Bike Critical Workforce Membership Program, providing the first responder, healthcare, and transit workforce with a free month of Citi Bike membership .  

Finally, the City of New York is hiring licensed TLC drivers to deliver food to New Yorkers in need during the COVID-19 crisis and NYCHA is currently hiring temporary workers to assist with maintenance at properties throughout the city. The job will last as needed throughout the spring season at a rate of $19.33 an hour. For more info and to apply contact your local NYCHA Property Management Office .
Additional Resources:

  • New webpage full of resources for New Yorkers with Disabilities during COVID-19: For information on Food/Supply Delivery, Social Security/Medicaid Benefits, Home Healthcare Services and more visit here.

  • NYC’s Health Department is regularly updating information about the Coronavirus here.

  • Remember that you can call 311 to have many of your novel Coronavirus questions answered as well. 311 can also help you locate a health care provider.

  • If you feel that you, or someone you know, needs counseling to help cope during this time, 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355) is a free, confidential help line for New York City residents. You can call 24 hours per day/7 days a week. The staff of trained mental health professionals help callers find mental health services. NYC Well is multilingual and multicultural. More information about this program can be accessed here.

  • If you would like to receive regular text alerts from City government regarding the novel Coronavirus, you can sign up by texting COVID to 692-692.
About Business and Event Promotions in this Newsletter : Businesses and organizations located in the Jamaica Avenue Commercial District between Sutphin Blvd and 169th Street are invited to submit promotional information for possible inclusion in our newsletter. Events happening near or immediately adjacent to the Jamaica Avenue Commercial District may also be considered for inclusion on a case-by-case basis. We reserve the right to reject or edit materials for length, style, timeliness, and appropriateness. This newsletter serves to inform our community about events, opportunities and commercial activity in Downtown Jamaica, within specifically the Jamaica Center BID boundaries.