Former County of Erie Legislator Betty Jean Grant has always been a vocal person in our community, standing up for what she believes in. These days, more than ever, Grant believes that minority communities in Western NY are being negatively impacted in ways that are detrimental to those who already get an unfair shake. Similar to the ways that underserved communities have experienced red lining and food deserts, Grant is fearful that COVID-19 is a similar concern. Whether it’s the absence of imparted knowledge about the virus, or the lack of physical safety barriers (such as masks), Grant is looking to push the activism envelope in a variety of ways.
One of the first things that Grant did to combat disparities was to directly engage at-risk East Side residents about the dangers of the virus. She did this by outfitting her SUV with a PA sound system – a throwback political tactic. She then blared a prerecorded message to community members, telling people to take precautions. Grant says that she has “… embarked upon a one-woman community awareness campaign, since mid-March 2020, by spending 3 hours daily, driving throughout East Side streets of the city, sharing the life-saving message of personal safety measures that should be taken against coronavirus.”
The campaign that Grant is referring to is part of the “We Are Women Warriors” (W3) movement – a civic group that is now successfully running Protective Personal Equipment [PPE] giveaways, including PPE pop-ups at Steve’s Meats on East Delavan Avenue and at the Broadway Market. W3 has now partnered up with Fillmore District Council Member Mitch Nowakowski, and Erie County Legislator (District 1) Howard Johnson, to disseminate additional masks. Their next neighborhood outing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, May 20 in front of Grant’s Variety Shoppe, located at 1055 East Ferry Street.
“Community response to the W3 PPE giveaways has been tremendous, and the organization feels it has made a positive difference in the rate at which minority residents in Buffalo wear PPEs,” said Grant.
Grant also noted that the East Ferry-Moselle Street area is a high risk neighborhood, due to being situated in-between two councilmatic districts: Fillmore and Masten. She explains that the zone has missed out on both private investment and municipal economic development opportunities, which is why she is stepping up her awareness campaign that will have a direct positive impact upon East Ferry Street and its residents.
It’s good to see resolute activists such as Grant taking up the cause to protect Buffalo’s underserved communities during COVID-19, whether it’s by furnishing residents with the most current protocols, or fortifying them with the proper protective equipment that they require to stay safe – Buffalo wins when we all win.