Etna keeping community together, informed through #Etnalife Live -

Etna keeping community together, informed through #Etnalife Live

Friday, March 20, 2020 | 11:00 PM

The Etna Community Organization strives to bring people together during this time of social distancing due to the coronavirus.

ECO launched a digital initiative March 18 called #Etnalife Live to continue “to maintain social connection” because “we are all in this together,” according to a letter from Alexis Boytim, ECO director. The community group is dedicated to collaborating with Etna Borough to create “a more vibrant and sustainable future.”

At 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, join ECO for community forums and news, coronavirus updates and stories about living, working and playing in Etna. Find the program through ECO’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

Show co-hosts Boytim and Robert Tunon, ECO board member, spoke directly to specific viewers, which fostered a sense of community togetherness. Tunon named individuals as they logged on to the program and mentioned their contributions to the borough.

In the coronavirus update segment, Boytim said that March 16 Etna issued a Declaration of Disaster Emergency for coronavirus to ensure that the borough is prepared and able to obtain the necessary community resources.

“(Borough Manager) Mary Ellen Ramage is absolutely leading the charge as always,” Tunon said.

Residents received messages from the manager informing them that officials are available to help senior citizens, people with disabilities, those who are sick, in need of medication, and experiencing wage loss due to coronavirus.

Robert’s wife, Megan, appeared on #Etnalife Live, where she said Etna Council, of which she is a member, held a special meeting March 17.

“We are trying to take this as seriously as possible,” she said. “The good news is that even though the borough is closed to walk-in visitors, they are still there, they are still pushing projects forward and just modifying in the ways that we need to make sure that we’re following the guidance of the federal government and the state and Allegheny county as best as we can.”

Tunon also discussed the anxiety she is experiencing raising two young boys during the pandemic. “We’re just doing the best we can with the circumstances,” Boytim said.

“We know that this is a particularly challenging time for our local businesses. To provide support in the ways that we can, we will be hosting businesses during our weekly #Etnalife Live sessions in an interview format. In exchange, businesses will be paid for their time,” she said.

The Shiny Bean Coffee & Tea House owner Alaina Hermanowski appeared on the premiere to share how her 2-year-old shop is doing after Gov. Tom Wolf’s order for restaurants to close dine-in service for 14 days to help limit coronavirus’s spread.

“It’s hit us pretty hard, to be honest. We’ve been making changes every day or so.”

She has had to limit store hours and increased sanitation measures in response to the coronavirus. “I’ve got a core group of regulars. Most of them are trying to be as supportive as possible,” Hermanowski said. “And even a few other people are coming in and they are almost becoming like new regulars — they are trying to support small businesses, but business has gone down.”

In addition to selling coffee other beverages and breakfast sandwiches, The Shiny Bean has a dairy refrigerator stocked with Marburger Farm Dairy milk, eggs, butter, buttermilk and cream cheese. She may add bacon and hot dogs. Hermanowski will accept Marburger requests for other items by noon Mondays and Thursdays. She also offers Mancini’s Bakery bread.

Hermanowski is grateful for the community’s support.

“The people of Etna and the surrounding communities, everyone has been overwhelming patient and flexible, and all I can say is thank you so much, you’ve been wonderful to me and to my staff and you have been wonderful since day one.”