Here is a noble job for our AB Elpidophoros and especially for our business leaders: Call Gov. Cuomo and offer to put together a team from the Greek-American community and anyone else interested (with business and practical expertise from the Garment District), to restart garment manufacturing in New York – specifically focused at producing REUSABLE PPEs for our medical professionals along with sterilization ideas and equipment. Many Greek American women are already doing it at home… 

By Nick Stamatakis

Yesterday, we referred to our Church leadership and its inadequacy in front of this disaster we are all faced with.  At the same time we asked everyone who is able and healthy to call the American Red Cross and donate blood and the even more valuable convalescent plasma, taken from those who have recovered from COVID-19 – and they are many among us.  We also suggested that those who are unable to do much else, they can contribute in a meaningful way by supporting emotionally the elderly by calling them up and telling them that they care… And doing everything else possible to help their Christian brothers… But there is a lot more than we can do.

We are all watching daily Governor Cuomo trying to do the best that he can to help New York deal with this disaster.  You can agree or disagree with him politically – and we were not shy at all to express our disagreements in the past – but all of us recognize that he is trying to do his best. He overcame political barriers himself in front of this historical disaster, as we all should, and he reached out to president Trump and others in this national effort. The last few days Governor Cuomo could not hide his helplessness and his outrage regarding the fact that we cannot produce enough PPEs in America (Personal Protection Equipment: masks, gowns, gloves, etc.) to support our medical professionals fight this battle and win it.

Having owned for the last 30 years a small manufacturing business and having also witnessed closely the explosion of imports from the Orient, I was equally outraged that we have exported all of our manufacturing capacity overseas.  And we are now allowing the communist leadership of China to control and even blackmail us on how much of these supplies they are going to ship to us…

But soon after the outrage subsided, I started asking myself and others some reasonable questions:  We used to have a “Garment District” here in NYC covering about 10 blocks between 34th and 42nd street between 6th and 9th Avenues… This Garment District used to produce a huge amount of clothing and it is still today a major center of the fashion industry worldwide.  Many Greek Americans – including the famous furriers – were part of this industry and many are still alive today, although they are older and retired…  The Fashion Institute of Technology, the famous FIT, is still one of the major centers of learning in the fashion industry and it is part of the SUNY system.

In fact, I learned that recently Governor Cuomo requested the use of FIT’s dorms to provide housing for the Federal personnel who will be manning the massive 2,500 bed COVID 19 temporary hospital in nearby Javits Center. Governor Cuomo had every right to do that because as Governor of New York he has the authority of overseeing the expansive SUNY system.

Although the productive capabilities of the Garment District are now minimized, the expertise is still there.  We know for a fact that our community used to play a big role there and it is still active.  FIT itself has sewing machines and other equipment.  And it has some space.  Many big fashion companies are active around FIT and the Garment industry: Kenneth Cole, Donna Karan, G3 and many others with business expertise and some production capabilities.  The famous Greek furriers are still active, although they have lost most of their productive capacity.  But the business expertise is still there and they can quickly employ it in many ways – and also teach the younger generations.

I was amazed to learn from three different sources that Greek American women are producing reusable masks at home! And some of them are selling them online! Good for them! Even the Surgeon General of the United States produced a video on how to make a mask at home!!  Many others have started home-based, library-based or college-based little industries using 3D printers, producing facial masks (here is one of the many videos)!!  There are tens of similar videos online!!  I am sure we New Yorkers, can do much more than a home-made mask for our medical professionals! Let’s restart the fabric industry now!…

Here is a noble task for our business leaders and for AB Elpidophoros: Why don’t we all do our part to take advantage of this opportunity to help our beloved New York City and our brothers? Let’s put together a task force connecting our business people, Greek American and anyone else interested, with FIT and the Governor.  Let’s offer our Churches and any other space we have to jump-start this effort.  Waiting for PPEs from China is not the solution.  The solution will be to provide our doctors and nurses – and all people – with reusable materials and with sterilization ideas and equipment.  Even when the lockdown is lifted, these materials will be in short supply as the whole world will need them for a long time…  The solution is to produce them here.  And then, if we are successful and efficient, (and we will be if we start using artificial intelligence and robotics), we can export them…

Let’s not be “crybabies” and let’s not wait for the Government to do everything for us.  Let’s do our part in this giant battle.  In the process some of us may end up with viable businesses – but this is a welcome opportunity! Let these business leaders come to the front! In the process some others may make a good name for themselves instead of hiding uselessly in the background… This is also welcome!  Let them become real (Christian) leaders! Let them come to the front and lead this effort!!

March 27, 2020,



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