MANHATTAN — Three weeks ago, Vincent LeVien’s day-to-day activities looked much different than they do right now.
Taking a phone call from the streets of New York City with sirens blaring in the distance, on a Friday afternoon he is already in the thick of delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to doctors, nurses, FDNY, EMS and police forces across the New York metropolitan area.
The director of external affairs for DeSales Media Group, The Tablet’s parent company, has had a decades-long career in government relations and external affairs, working closely with city and state elected officials, a number of presidents and even at Ground Zero.
During the coronavirus pandemic, access to medical equipment at its epicenter is scarce. But LeVien is using his personal connections and experienced leadership in times of crisis to ensure that those who need support can receive it sooner.
Three weeks ago, he established the six-man COVID-19 Emergency Task Force.
“It’s very hard. We wake up every morning, we get on a mask, we put on gloves,” he said. “We’re putting our lives on the line.” As someone with pre-existing conditions attributed to September 11, LeVien faces heightened risks from coronavirus.
Part of his 18-hour day includes “taking a container off of a boat … asking the vendor, ‘Can you give us X amount of products before you start selling them to everyone else?’ ” LeVien explained.
Multiple times a day, the group drives to a New Jersey warehouse to pick up supplies from vendors. Getting PPE straight from the source is how the Emergency Task Force has managed to donate 250 boxes of sanitizer, 50 boxes of gloves and 20,000 masks to Catholic Charities. They have also given 50,000 masks to FDNY, EMS and Mt. Sinai Hospital.
From food to facilitating needs at New York’s Jacob Javits Center, LeVien describes the Task Force’s efforts as “a mission of faith.”
“A lot of the people that have worked with me have worked at Ground Zero,” he said. “We have to help people, and if we don’t help people, who’s going to do what we’re doing?”
To read the latest updates regarding coronavirus concerns in the Brooklyn Diocese, go to https://thetablet.org/coronavirus.