The rapid spread of the Omicron variant in Brooklyn has resulted in a Bed Stuy store and common room struggling to keep its doors open. But the neighbors are doing what they can to make sure this happens.
Bed-Stuys Playground Coffee Shop is in a “fight for survival” due to the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the district and the lack of state and federal aid and funding, the company told its Instagram followers on Tuesday. It urgently needs 30,000 US dollars, otherwise there is a threat of closure.
“We need exceptional help to cover our staff, utilities, coffee, maintenance and rental costs,” the article says. “Finding crowdsourcing in our community seems like one of our only remaining options.”
The community heard the call. By Wednesday night, Playground’s supporters – including other community-centric businesses like Seafood Shipwreck Boutique – were in place and donated more than $ 47,000 to ensure the space on Bedford Ave. 1114 can continue to do its work.
“I love everything that Playground Coffee Shop does and what it stands for in the community,” said donor Sea Harris. “You are a beacon in Bed-Stuy and you make the best dirty chais. Thanks very much!”
Playground Coffee Shop – which also runs a bookstore, non-profit organization for Bed Stuy youth, a communal refrigerator, and radio station – planned to reopen its doors for indoor seating and activities in late 2021 for a two-year “pandemic break”.
With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, however, it was said with a clear conscience that it could not reopen as planned.
“This reality leaves us in a stalemate for the long winter ahead,” Playground said on its GoFundMe page.
During the seven-day period that ended last Saturday, more than 6,100 people in Bed-Stuy’s five postcodes tested positive for the coronavirus – a positivity rate of 24.2%.
While these numbers would have been astonishingly high just a few months ago, they represent a slight decrease compared to the previous week.
For small businesses like Playground, which held on in hopes of the indoor restaurant reopening in 2022, the surge in cases was just another crippling setback.
Playground was founded in 2016 by Zenat Begum as a café and community room. The corner used to be the family business of Begum, which operated as a hardware store for two decades, but has developed into a community hub in recent years.
In recent years, Playground has had community services like its community fridge, a greenhouse that grows fresh food, a take-one-leave-one library, and the non-profit Playground Youth, a place where young people can network and grow, provided.
It had to be scaled down to a to-go model during the pandemic, but continued to support the community by distributing over 8,000 PSA kits, distributing 800 free meals a week, and raising more than $ 7,000 from local initiatives.
While Playground founder Begum raised funds on Wednesday to keep her own organization afloat, she was collecting essential clothing and toiletries for those affected by the fatal fire at the Twin Parks North West Apartments in the Bronx.
In addition to receiving hundreds of donations from thankful people in the neighborhood, Playground received $ 5,000 from Brooklyn-born coffee company Blank Street.
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