I don’t know if this is happening in other parts of the United States, but every evening at 7:00 p.m., the people in New York City stand outside their homes (or hang out their apartment windows) clapping, banging pots and pans, honking horns if they’re driving, or using anything else they can get their hands on to make a lot of noise. We call it Clap Because We Care, and it’s our way of thanking essential workers for continuing their work during these most difficult times. Apparently, the idea originated in other countries where the pandemic has hit hard, and locals wanted to create a gesture of thanks to their front-line workers.
Clap Because We Care was featured last night during the opening sequence to Rise Up New York! The Robin Hood Relief Benefit, a fundraising telethon that pulled in more than a $100 million of donations in an hour. The event was presented by the anti-poverty organization Robin Hood along with iHeartMedia. Robin Hood has been fighting poverty in NYC for more than 30 years, and they now partner with more than 250 nonprofit organizations in the area to support food, housing, education and workforce development for New Yorkers living in poverty. It’s hard to believe in this day and age, but there are people here who can’t afford to buy food after having lost their jobs. Closing the NYC school system has meant that 750,000 children lost access to two meals per day.
The entertainment industry came out in force for Rise Up New York! The Robin Hood Relief Benefit, and — as we have seen time and again — the music industry led the way. Tina Fey hosted the event, and there were appearances by entertainers as diverse as Bette Midler, Chris Rock, Jennifer Lopez, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Jimmy Fallon, NFL Giants players Eli Manning and Michael Strahan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. But the highlights were the performances from Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi, Sting and Billy Joel.
Judging from the success of the telethon, viewers were more than willing to open their wallets for their favorite entertainers. Robin Hood pledges that 100 percent of donations will be used to provide support in the form of food, shelter, cash assistance, health and mental health, legal services, and education in an effort to help needy New Yorkers rebuild their lives.
The telethon closed with Billy Joel’s solo performance of his song “Miami 2017,” which prophetically opens with the line “I’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway…” Who would have ever thought that could be possible?
In the toughest of times, remember this: there’s someone who has it worse.