Albany

Schenectady County staffer redeployed in relief effort does a little bit of everything

‘You do what’s called of you’
Dominick DiCarlo, right, and Nick Gallo have been delivering needed items to residents and checking in on homebound people.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Dominick DiCarlo, right, and Nick Gallo have been delivering needed items to residents and checking in on homebound people.

Categories: Schenectady County

ALBANY — For 22 years, Dominick DiCarlo has worked in Schenectady County’s environmental health unit, plugging away at public water projects and reviewing site plans. 

But that was in a past life, one before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Now he hops into his county vehicle every day to deliver food and other critical items to local households as part of the county’s relief operation. 

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Whether food, medicine or diapers, the county’s Emergency Response Coalition finds the items and provides home delivery.

And when it comes to checking in on quarantined residents stuck at home, DiCarlo does that, too.

“Anything that needs to be done out on the ground,” DiCarlo said. 

Home base is a nondescript building on Eastern Avenue. 

Early on, DiCarlo and his colleagues would go to area stores and pick up the items, everything from groceries to masks to thermometers to prescriptions.

“In the beginning, we were literally doing grocery shopping,” he said.

Rising to the Challenge: Faces of the COVID-19 crisis in the Capital Region

DiCarlo cited a call from a family of six who didn’t have cereal for their kids.

Necessities such as bread, milk and eggs have remained popular items.

The operation’s main hub is the Schenectady Boys & Girls Club, where staffers take calls, crunch data and sort deliveries from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. 

DiCarlo delivers a half-dozen buckets per trip, making up to 20 stops per day, mostly in the city.

He also performs wellness checks on senior citizens, residents who have tested positive for the virus or those self-isolating as a precautionary measure. 

 

All it takes is just a knock on the door and keeping 6 feet away. 

“It’s actually pretty amazing and encouraging how disciplined people have been about confining themselves to their homes,” DiCarlo said. “In general, people have been calm, compliant, appreciative, and it’s been pretty rewarding, all in all.” 

Despite being homebound, most people aren’t any more chatty than usual after being deprived of social interaction, according to DiCarlo. Most just want to know when the pandemic will be over, he said. 

And occasionally, there’s an off-color joke.

“It’s good to have a laugh in the car once in a while,” DiCarlo said.

The coalition came together in mid-March once it became evident food pantries couldn’t safely operate as a result of social-distancing guidelines. 

Rising to the Challenge: Faces of the COVID-19 crisis in the Capital Region

As of the week ending April 17, the coalition has served more than 6,700 individual residents, making nearly 6,200 deliveries and fielding over 12,000 phone calls. 

In a time when nurses, grocery store workers and other people on the front lines are being as praised as heroes, DiCarlo shrugged. 

“I don’t think anyone here is looking for a pat on the back,” he said. “You do what’s called of you.”

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