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Rising to the Call

Ed Kashi | New Jersey, United States

Dan Renaldo, CEO of Eva’s Village, cares for Hector Vargas, 54, a resident of the halfway house shelter for men in Paterson, New Jersey on April 26, 2020. 

Vargas tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago and is now in recovery. Renaldo is not a trained healthcare worker but is volunteering to care for his residents who have contracted the virus. “The compassion, commitment and courage of our staff and the clients is truly humbling. It’s inspiring to see folks take tremendous personal risk to help people at a moment of extraordinary need,” says Dan Renaldo.

"Somehow, showing the best in people nowadays is frequently viewed as naïve,” wrote Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of ICP, commenting on the role of photojournalism during this pandemic. But not showing the best in people means we’re neglecting half the story.

In New Jersey, the second deadliest hot spot for the coronavirus in America, individuals and businesses have responded with an outpouring of ingenuity, benevolence and grit. In this portrait of one state’s response, people in New Jersey are rising to the call for action in creative and inspiring ways. Individuals are volunteering time, energy, and money, and businesses are adjusting by using their resources and rerouting their efforts.

This response is a timely and inspiring story to remind us that there is hope and we are stronger than this virus when we pull together. New Jersey is no different than the rest of America. In the face of adversity, the people of this small but crowded state, hit mercilessly by the pandemic, are displaying resilience, community spirit, and genuine goodness.

Photographer: Ed Kashi/VII

Producer: Brenda Bingham

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