December 29th, 2020
Greetings to our Maltese Center Members, families, friends and the Maltese Community. Hope you are having a well-deserved nice and safe festive season under these very difficult and uncertain times. Who could have predicted that we will be in so many predicaments and sacrifice so many things and way of life? When we rang in the New Year of 2020 at the Astoria Manor and wished for a Happy, Healthy and a Prosperous New Year, little we knew what was ahead of us. Taking things for granted has a new meaning and we all learnt from experience.
Due to Covid-19, the Committee had to make difficult decisions. We contemplated many scenarios, and we had to follow CDC, State and City protocols. We all thought that it was going to be for a few weeks, but ended up being months of uncertainty. The Maltese Center was in preparation of the very popular “Lejla Maltija” preparations. The event was already sold out. We planned to move this event to a later date, but we all know that not only the “Lejla Maltija” had to be postponed, but everything else. Life looked like a standstill for many. Plans were on hold. Like many places, the Maltese Center had to close in order to follow health safety protocols and keep everyone associated with attending and visiting the Maltese Center safe.
When the State and New York City started to ease restrictions, the Committee followed protocol to open in a safe manner with limited attendance. At the same time, the Committee sent out an appeal for PPE’s, sanitizing and cleaning supplies, which were scarce at that time and the members and community came through, which are always appreciated and we thank them for their generosity.
Opening was challenging, as everything was new to us on how it was best for the members to attend and ensure safety guidelines. In the first phase, an open-air tent was erected in the backyard garden with tables and seating spaced according to the CDC guidelines and by the latter phase the lower hall was opened, all with limited capacity. In addition, masks were worn by all members and visitors while on the premises, COVID-19 safety guideline signage posted throughout, hand sanitizing stations, and sanitizing supplies on every table. It was a new norm that was not easy, but everyone did their best to adapt, stay socially distanced, and follow safety protocols. A well-deserved thank you to all the volunteers who helped with a successful re-opening; cleaning crew, repair and maintenance crew, concession crew, and all those who do their part to make the Maltese Center a thriving volunteer-based community.
When we re-opened not all members and visitors felt comfortable venturing out and visiting the Center, all scheduled events cancelled, limited capacity indoors and outdoors, all which has created a hardship for the Center. Meanwhile we had to continue maintenance and upkeep of the Center, pay for utilities, taxes, insurances etc. This amounted to a much bigger financial burden than anticipated, what was thought to be a few weeks postponement became close to an entire year of very limited operations. An appeal for financial help went out in November and encouraged the need for a stronger based membership. As of the publishing of this letter we have not reached our goal but are ever so thankful for the response thus far and generosity of our donors and members. We are greatly encouraged with the increase of new applications and acceptance of new members. The website www.themaltesecenter.com is fully functional and user friendly to accept membership applications, dues, and donations. This will allow members to be up to date in dues and also allow prospective members to apply for membership.
The Maltese Center has been proactive reaching out to our members and community through our website www.themaltesecenter.com , ZOOM series, and our social networks the Maltese Center NYC Facebook page and themaltesecenter Instagram. We would like to thank the administrators for their excellent help to reach out and keep the community informed.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have faced financial hardships, experienced job loss, and deepest sympathy to those who have lost a loved one during these trying times. Gratitude and humbleness go to our members, volunteers, supporters and the Maltese Community. The Committee wishes you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.
With warm regards,
Eddie Debono, President, and the Committee of the Maltese Center of New York City