The first city facilities to be closed in Garland were our two Senior Centers--which suddenly put many seniors who lived alone in a very isolated situation. Deborah immediately set up a Senior "Phone Buddies" program to match willing Garland participants with seniors who expressed a desire for someone to call and chat with them several times a week. Originally conceived as a short-term program, it has continued as a lifeline for lonely seniors.
In mid-March, sensing that the recommendations against mask-wearing were soon to change, Deborah reached out to a local church about sewing cloth masks for free distribution. When the national recommendations changed on April 1st, the masks were ready--and Deborah delivered over 1200 of them to nursing homes, healthcare workers and vulnerable individuals who couldn't at that time find masks to purchase.
Early in the pandemic, Deborah received messages from several non-English speaking communities in Garland asking for help and clarification about how to stay safe on the job. Some worked in manufacturing environments, others were afraid for elderly family members. Deborah immediately provided Spanish and Vietnamese job site and personal safety guidelines, then worked through a translator to provide guidance to a community whose language was unavailable in written form.
When it became clear that public health messages were missing some of our non-English speaking Garland residents, Deborah asked for a GP&L insert to be urgently included in the April utility bill. It went out in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, and included the COVID-19 precautions and guidance at that time.
In early April the new public recommendations were announced for widespread mask-wearing. Deborah created and sponsored a series of humorous social media ads to encourage mask use, as well as other ads to inform people 65+ of their higher risks and to encourage them to exercise additional precautions.
When new COVID-19 cases started escalating in June among young people in their upper teens, 20s and 30s, Deborah partnered with community leaders in Garland to produce a series of video announcements geared toward young people, with the theme: "Spread the Word, Not the Virus".
After months of restrictions and scares, Deborah saw that many Garland residents were losing heart. She again partnered with community leaders to produce an encouraging video announcement:
"COVID has impacted many families in Garland. It's time to be cautious, but not hopeless! "
- Deborah Morris, Garland City Council Member
When restaurants and retailers were allowed to reopen under very limited conditions, Deborah worked to find ways to get feet back on the street in the downtown. She ran a series of ads to announce which businesses now offered limited indoor service and which still offered curbside.
After months of restrictions, many of our Downtown restaurants were struggling to survive. Deborah proposed a Downtown initiative to promote dining on the Square, using it as a large outdoor dining hall. Combined with prize drawings and "Square Meal" packets with tablecloths and dinnerware, it attracted new diners to come downtown to "eat out!"
Due to the pandemic, our restaurants suffered financial losses due to limited indoor dining. Deborah proposed a "Parklets" program to enable restaurants to create temporary outdoor dining areas on their own parking lots, or in some cases to get permission to repurpose several street parking spaces for that use. One downtown restaurant immediately opened a Parklet which has been very successful.
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Copyright © 2020 Deborah Morris