Nyack Sketch Log: Sage’s Herbal Apothecary

by Bill Batson

According to Sarah Bergmann, “An apothecary is a callback to a more natural holistic approach to medicine and lifestyles. Think of the stories once told of how ‘grandma’ use to cure a sore throat, or how ‘your great grandparents’ use to have this balm that relieved the pain so easily.”

Her answer to that call, Sage’s Herbal Apothecary,  fits as seamlessly into the zeitgeist of Nyack as the popular antique store that occupied their South Broadway address for decades, Christopher’s, once did.

Learn about the story of how urgency to find holistic remedies created one of Nyack’s newest small businesses and meet the Apothecary’s name sake, Sage.

Leah St. George and her niece, Sage.

Who is Sage?

Sage is the daughter of two of the owners, Sarah and Will Bergmann and niece to the third, Leah St George.

What’s the difference between a pharmacy and apothecary?

Pharmacies are more known in today’s society for providing specially prescribed medicines which are prepared by pharmacists.  While some pharmacies might offer some natural remedies, those are quite few and far between.

An apothecary traditionally carries organic herbs & spices to use in cooking, making herbal remedies, and even taken in tea forms to help with everything from muscle pains to stress to illnesses.

Whereas pharmacies usually feature a pharmacist that fulfills a doctor’s prescription, an apothecary would normally be host to an herbalist that can assist with suggesting and making custom remedies from syrups to salves and much more.

How did the idea for Sage’s emerge?

In our search for natural remedies we often found ourselves traveling to many places outside of Nyack, and we felt there was almost a calling for an herbal shop to be find a home in the Nyack area.  We wanted to provide a safe and trusted space for our local community to find natural products that they can trust as well as help to educate our local communities on living healthier lives through raw natural herbal remedies.

When did you become interested in holistic remedies?

About 15 years ago, Sarah started her journey on using more all-natural products when pharmaceuticals were no longer working well for skin care use or for illness.  Once starting to look into pharmaceuticals and their goal, it became more obvious that the medicines where only attempting to replicate the healing effects of herbal remedies.

Sarah Bergman and Sage

Have you had personal need for any of the alternative health and wellness products that you provide?

In the beginning of Sarah’s journey, she had chronic stomach and gut issues as well as skin related issues.  Like most people, she visited a Doctor’s office and was prescribed various medicines to help cure and treat her.  The issue was that the medicine was not working and in fact sometimes made things worse.  When she first tried to use a more natural approach with herbal remedies and changes to her diet, she noticed the symptoms were going away and her skin started to become much healthier.  With these changes and using more natural remedies, she also happened to notice her anxiety and stress levels were improving and her energy levels increasing.  Since then our go to has been a combination of herbal remedies or homeopathic remedies to help keep our bodies strong and healthy.

Who are your customers?

We see a wide variety of people that patronize our store, from local community members searching for an all-natural remedy to the person visiting our town on a weekend getaway.  People come in our store with a wide range of knowledge about herbs and natural medicine.  Some know exactly which herbs and spices they are looking for while others look to us for assistance and guidance.

What are some of the maladies that your products address?

Some of the maladies that our products address and support are healing various bacterial and viral infections, different types of skin conditions like eczema, sleeping issues, gut and digestive problems, allergies, and simple first aide like scrapes and cuts to name but a few.

Who prepares your remedies?

Sarah, who is our certified herbalist, formulates our herbal remedies and skin care products.  She can also help create custom remedies for individuals after having consultations with them to learn more about their medical history.

Where do you get your ingredients from?

We source our ingredients for the herbs, spices, and teas mostly from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They are based in Oregon and work with various farmers to help ensure that the herbs, spices, and oils being produces are done so in a sustainable and organic nature.  They have a very high standard when it comes to ensuring the quality of the products they sell and are trusted by many herbalists and individuals who search for natural organic herbs and spices.

What are some of your most popular products?

While it’s hard to say which loose herbs and spices people love the most, we can note some of the more popular items that we make using them.

Some of the more popular items are our raw skin care like our Calendula Witch Hazel and our Honey Cleanser which is great for clearing up all types of skin conditions. While we offer over 50 different herbal tinctures, our more popular ones are Passionflower, Elderberry, California Poppy, Calendula, and Hops which can aide with things from sleeping to digestive to fending off colds & flu. Our Eczema salve and Mugwort salve are also very popular and help with skin conditions and muscle soreness. For our tea blends, the Let’s Relax Tea blend is one of our most popular which helps with sleeping.  Our Immune Boosting and our Help My Tummy Tea are also popular among our patrons.

How do tinctures’ work?

Tinctures work by using a solvent which is a substance that dissolves a solute which are the medicinal constituents within the plant. The solvent used is called a menstruum. The different types of solvents used in making tinctures are alcohol, vinegar and glycerin. Some solvents extract more medicinal constituents than others. At Sage’s we use an organic, non-gmo, corn-based alcohol to extract a large number of medicinal constituents from the herbs. What is great about tinctures’ is that you can take less of it than if you needed to consume a tea. Tinctures have a long shelf life versus a tea, a large portion of constituents are very soluble in alcohol, they can maintain their potency for many years, convenient to travel with, easier to monitor dosage, helpful when needing to take herbs that are not pleasant tasting.

Rockland Community College Occupational Therapy students and the Center for Safety and Change were at Sage’s on Sunday, Nov. 10 to raise money to donate self-care items for survivors of domestic violence.

Are tinctures better than pills and syrups?

Everyone is different and can require different ways to consume an herbal remedy. For a lot of people tinctures are more convenient which means the person is more likely to consume the medicine than if they had a tea. Herbal capsules can be helpful when taking certain herbs but not all herbs will work well in capsule form because of the way your body processes and absorbs it. Syrups can also be effective for some but there are a lot of people who cannot consume sugars, even natural sugars. Also, not all herbs are highly effective in a syrup form. Tinctures and teas are the most common and more potent ways that people consume medicinal herbs. The best way to consume an herbal medicine would be to use a tincture or tea or have a consultation with a certified herbalist.

Will Bergmann, Sarah Bergmann and Leah St George

What is fire cider?

Fire Cider is an herbal tonic that is made from food and medicinal herbs. Raw apple cider vinegar is traditionally used as the base because it is a great solvent and good at extracting large portions of medicinal constituents and minerals. These solutions can help ward off colds and flu, boost the immune system, overcome an illness more quickly, feed intestinal flora which provides great support for the gut, helpful with heart burn, and fungal infections. It can be taken alone or used with food. Fire Cider typically contains hot or warm foods such as onion, garlic, horseradish, rosemary and spicy peppers.

What are some of the benefits of aroma therapy?

Applied topically it can to help relieve pain, inflammation, antibacterial and antifungal skin conditions plus more. When used aromatically through a diffuser or tissue it can also help to calm, uplift and even energize people. Aromatherapy is also used to help conditions such as depression, anxiety and those who are grieving. Certain oils and oil blends when used appropriately can even help to ward off viral and bacterial illnesses. Essential oils are extremely potent and need to be used with care when using them for medicinal purposes like getting rid of a rash or treating a topical infection. Getting advice on using essential oils for medicinal purposes comes best from experienced well-educated certified herbalists, certified aromatherapists, and those certified in aromatic medicine.

What are some of the in-store events you have coming up?

Coming up we have an Aromatherapy event and our Herb of the Month club event featuring Chaga Mushrooms and hot cocoa in November and a Sweet Hormone Balance in December.

What’s next for Sage’s

Up next we will be looking to host more events to help educate the local communities about different benefits of herbal medicines and truly all-natural products.  One thing we often times find pride in is knowing exactly what went into each item made and confidently saying they are free of chemicals and harsh toxins.

Will Bergmann and Sage

Wasn’t your space formerly Christophers?

Yes, our store was previously home to Christophers. While the inside of the building may have been remodeled, we loved that the old exposed brick wall remained.

Any lingering vibe from all the antique, objects d’art and flowers?

We would say the brick wall still holds some of the Christophers essence as well as the artists we have been lucky enough to showcase in our store. Currently we are featuring Jackie Fiore’s artwork through the end of the year.

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Nyack Sketch Log: Sage’s Herbal Apothecary” © 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.


Nyack Sketch Log: Jennifer Attebery’s Moving Arts

by Bill Batson

Comfortably dressed people, gliding down the sidewalk with a yoga matt tucked under their arm is a common sight in Nyack, New York. Our village has been a yoga hub since the 1920s, when Pierre Bernard became the first to introduce the American public to the ancient practice from his Clarkstown Country Club ashram. However, some of those striding toward a fitness appointment might be taking a Pilates class, a system of exercises developed in Germany in the early 20th century.

Nyack Sketch Log got to experience the fitness method, thanks to a former professional ballet dancer and owner of Moving Arts Pilates Studio, Jennifer Attebery.

How did you discover Pilates?

I first discovered Pilates 35 years ago while I was training as a dancer in New York City. It was long before Pilates became widely known and back then it was specifically used as a rehabilitation for injured dancers and a small group of the population. After I left the dance world, I received a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on mind/body health and healing.

I love the balance of the physical and mental components of health. The physical space of my studio reflects these beliefs as I have tried to make my studio a tranquil and peaceful place.

Also, I usually have one or two dogs sleeping in the studio as a reminder of the simple pleasures of life.

How does your career as a dancer inform your work?

Dance is extremely physical work. Our bodies are the instrument, so it is important to fine tune it and be as physically fit as possible. I was always curious in the ‘why’ of movement. How can I lift my leg or how do I get my body off the ground?

Joseph Pilates

Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, whose father was a gymnast and mother, a naturopath.

Pilates developed his system of exercises while he was being held at an internment camp on the Isle of Man during World War I.

There are as many as 11 million people around the world you take Pilates classes. In the United States, there are over 14,000 instructors.

After I aged out of dance, succumbing to many injuries, I was still left with a curiosity of movement. I love when my clients become ‘curious’ and find ways to feel more fit and move with more ease.

What are some off the apparatus you employ in your practice?

The Gyrotonic tower is a unique, holistic exercise system with pulleys and weights that exercise the body. It helps create range of movement, spine mobility and stabilization. It’s a beautiful wooden machine and one of the machines I use in my exercise studio.

The majority of my work is in the Pilates method. My studio is a fully equipped Pilate’s studio which includes the reformer and the tower

How do you approach your work with your clients

The work I do is very individualized. It is one-on-one training. My clientele run the spectrum of young people with newly diagnosed scoliosis, professional musicians, everyday people who come in with aches and pains and I am happy to say that my oldest client is an 88 years old gentlemen.

Pilates is for every body. My work is best to serve the individual and a workout that specializes their needs. Every session is different as every individual is different.

Is Pilates a daily practice?

I don’t believe that people have to do Pilates everyday but I do believe in using the tools of pilates such as awareness of posture & core support daily.

People should have some sort of daily practice that includes physical and mental tuning. Whether that includes walking, meditation, dancing to great music, gardening, keeping a gratitude journal or anything else that fills us up as  we run around in our daily lives.

Is it my imagination, or does Nyack have a large wellness sector?

Nyack has a large wellness community for a small town. I find it a positive that there are so many choices. There is something for everyone.

What’s next for your practice?

I am at a phase of my life where I still love what I do and working with my clients. Most have been with me for years,  but I also have a real passion for travel. Now that my children are grown and my spouse has retired, my work is purposely not as busy as it was a few years ago. My clients know that there will be times when I am away traveling.

I feel very fortunate in my work and have tried my best to be helpful to those that walk through my door.

You can contact Moving Arts Pilates by phone and/or email at 845 642-6373 and Jennifer.pilates16@gmail.com

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. “The Moving Arts of Jennifer Attebery ” © 2019 Bill Batson.


Nyack Sketch Log: Bongo Fries

by Bill Batson

Brian “Bongo” Davis has become a brand. In just six months, the reggae musician and tour manager launched a popular product that has a logo that bears his resemblance. Where ever he parks his orange food cart, his Bongo Fries sell out before the close of business.

Meet the man behind the hat, glasses and beard, who has won over the foodie faithful with his fierce, fresh, hand-cut fries.

When did you launch Bongo Fries?

March 29,2018. It was an awesome pop-up in front of Boxer Donuts for 5 hours, non-stop. There was a line around the block.

The people of Nyack really came out and supported me…one of the best days of my life. This community is really a beautiful thing.

I heard you had a brush with the spud earlier in your life?


I have always loved French Fries, so when I started doing commercials in 1979 it came as a wonderful surprise that I landed an Ore Ida French Fry commercial.

It was 1981. I was 14. I looked 11.

Where did you find your distinctive bongo cart?

Well, I searched for about a year looking for something different. I was looking all over the US for a small camper or wagon. I didn’t want a truck. Finally, I found my food cart in China.

It took two months to deliver and finally a huge crate was in my driveway. That’s when I  knew this was real

What makes Bongo Fries better?

Honestly, I’m not doing anything people haven’t been doing for years. But Im doing it right and not cutting corners. I use fresh Idaho Russet #1 potatoes, cut them fresh, soak them over night and double fry them to perfection. I make them to order. No heat lamps. I also make my own signature spice and homemade sauces.

photo by Luis Bruno

The real difference is that I have fun doing what I do and try to connect with each person, big or small, who wants my fries.

So far, so good?

It’s been great. I love it. Of course there’s been ups and downs, challenges and disappointments, but that’s life and you have to roll with it. Sometimes I’m good at rolling with it…sometimes I suck.

What’s you other line of work?

I have been a stagehand for the last 22 years working as a video utility, audio utility.  I’m also the Tour Manager of The Grahams, a band out of Nashville,Tennessee.

How did you get the name Bongo?

It was the first week of college, back in the day, and I was carrying my Conga around and some guys were like hey it’s a Bongoman. Thirty-two years later…well, you can figure it out lol

What was the name of your first band?

The Razor Boys, in 1983-1985. The Razor Boys Are Coming was a Steely Dan song…we were a Punkish Mod band. We played CBGBS and a couple other bars back in the early 80’s

What’s the name of your current band?

JLP & The Very Bad Ideas, a local Reggae band

Where did your love for reggae music come from?

A friend of mine turned me onto Bob Marley (of course) back in 1979 or 1980. I then went and bought his newest album Uprising which would unfortunately be his last.

I would listen to it almost every day. Then I started buying more and more reggae, on vinyl of course. There was this great little record store on 1st ave and 90th street called Zig Zag  Records. I had a little job delivering bagels on the weekends and spent all my $$ at Zig Zag.

Then it was off to Jamaica every year from 1985-88, but that’s another story.

I was a Reggae Disc Jockey on my college Radio Station.

And now, finally 25 years later, in my first reggae band, and I love it.

I hear you have a signature dance move?

I guess. I just do a bit of skanking when I feel it, just for fun.

Any gigs coming up?

Yes Casa Del Sol on Oct. 18th at 9:30pm

What are some of the joys of owning Bongo Fries

Talking to all the people and hanging with the Nyack community.

There are so many great people.

What are some of the hurdles?

Dealing with red tape, cleaning and taxes

Same questions but with managing bands?

I love the band I work with.

When people don’t communicate or take their time getting back to me.

Who are some of the people in your early years that sent you on this path?

My parents for one. They taught me to always work hard and have fun.

I have always been able to connect with people, from all walks. I learned that from my dad and I learned respect and empathy from mom.

Of course there’s been people like Ernie Ferrigno who gave me my first job at the bagel place and my best friends growing up.

What brought you to Nyack?

The same as most people who move from NYC. I think all people want a better life for their children and family.

Slower life, better schools, and now I can GRILL!!

What’s coming next from your basement recording studio?

The band is working on recording about 3 tunes. It will happen…when, I have no idea.. but soon.

What’s next from Bongo’s kitchen?

I am going to be adding some new sauces and taking a few away. I’m also working on a breakfast fry thing and a nice late night item. You’ll just have to wait and follow me on Instagram to find out…

For those who have read this far and are now hungry for Bongo Fries. Where can we find you?

You can go to bongosfries.com for all my upcoming locations…

I’ll be hitting some local fall festivals, breweries, and always The Nyack Farmers Market on the first and third Thursdays until December!

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: Bongo Fries ” © 2019 Bill Batson.


Nyack Sketch Log: Celebrate Halloween Here

by Bill Batson

In 2017,  Nyack was ranked by travelchannel.com as the 4th best place in America to celebrate Halloween.  Here is a list of frightfully fun spooky-season events in and around Nyack that crescendo with the 32nd Annual Nyack Chamber of Commerce Halloween Parade.

This week’s sketch, the depiction of a home on Midland Avenue, was given to the winner of the first house decoration competition in 2018. Learn more about how to register to win cash and prizes in costume, float and house decoration contests that make Nyack a nationally ranked place to pay homage to All Hallow’s Eve!

Oct. 9 – Rivertown Magazine Halloween Party

Join Rivertown for a Halloween Party at Confetti’s Ristorante in Piermont on October 9th, from 6:30-9:30p. Light appetizers and cash bar. $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Rivertown Magazine is one of the sponsors of the 32nd Annual Halloween Parade. In collaboration with the Nyack Chamber of Commerce, Rivertown has launched Foodie Fest – a celebration of the diverse dining scene on the sunset-side of the Hudson. Foodie Fest begins October 27, the day after Nyack’s Halloween Parade and goes through November 16. Come for the costumes, come back for the cuisine! Learn more here.

October 12 – fear: An Exhibition and Costume Party at VºLITION gallery

An exhibition that questions what is the nature of fear and how does it manifest itself in art?  Come dressed to impress in your boldest most creative costume, the wild and imaginative will be rewarded in a contest that is not for the faint of heart.

Admission is free. VºLITION gallery is located at Bell-ans Center of Creative Arts 103 S Greenbush Rd, Orangeburg, NY 10962;

Oct. 20 – Oak Hill Cemetery Walking Tour

Walk scenic Oak Hill Cemetery & celebrate the lives of many “permanent residents” of the Nyacks who made their mark on the national, state, and local stages. Actress Helen Hayes, playwrights Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, artist Edward Hopper, author Carson McCullers and some of the earliest settlers of the Nyacks are buried here. A $5 donation to the Historical Society of the Nyacks is suggested.

Meet 2pm at the Cemetery entrance gate, Route 9W, between Sickles Avenue and 5th Avenue. For more information, please visit nyackhistory.org.

Oct. 25 – YACK YACK Halloweenfest and Costume Party

The Nyack Village Theater BOO-tique’s Yack Yack Broadcast Show invites you to a rollicking party featuring Visual Artist Cori Schimko, Stand Up Comedy by Austin Gallo, and live musical performances by Curly (full band performance), Mik3y The Rapper, Rachel Beers, and John from…. Plus a costume contest with a live panel of judges, oh my!

Oct. 26 – 32nd Annual Halloween Nyack Chamber of Commerce Halloween Parade

Registration starts for the 32nd Annual Nyack Chamber of Commerce Halloween Parade on October 26, 2019 at 3:00pm in Memorial Park. The parade steps off at 5:30pm. Thousands in cash and prizes for best costume and best float.

Candy craving costumed revelers are welcome for follow a Trick-or-Treat trail map through downtown Nyack from 1-4pm. Trick-or-Treat bags, with local swag, provided.

Registration for costumes and floats starts in Memorial Park at 3:00p

The parade steps off from Memorial Park at 5:30 and follows the following route:

  • South on Piermont Avenue
  • West on Cedar Hill
  • North on Broadway
  • West on Main Street
  • South on Franklin Street
  • East on Artopee

Performances and the announcement of best costumes and floats will be held at the gazeboo in Veteran Park at the corner of Main and Cedar.

Our Halloween Parade is sponsored by Guinness/Oak Beverages, Rivertown Magazine’s Foodie Fest, and Better Homes and Gardens/Rand Realty of Nyack.

Oct. 26 thru Nov. 7 – 2nd Annual House Decoration Competition

Is your house the spookiest, most cleverly decorated candy distribution portal on your block? Why not win a prize in the second annual Better Homes And Gardens Rand Realty of Nyack House and Lawn Decoration Contest.

First Prize:2 nights for 2 at the Time Nyack Hotel:
Second Prize: House portrait commission by Nyack Sketch Log’s Bill Batson
Third Price: Cruise for 2 from Nyack Boat Charter

First place trophy sculpted by Peter Cheney

Register here by October 23.

Ballots will be distributed at the Halloween Parade and at the following polling sites where completed ballots can be dropped off until Wednesday, November 6.

Winners will be announced at Casa del Sol at 7pm on Thursday, November 7!

Polling sites:

  • Casa Del Sol, 104 Main St., YMCA, 35 S. B’way,
  • Rand Realty 46 S. B-way
  • Nyack Library, 59 S. B’way
  • Hartell’s Deli, 326 N. B’way
  • Nyack Farmer’s Market

Winners of the first House Decoration Competition, the Nassisi’s

House Decoration sponsors:

  • Rand Realty/Nyack
  • Lauren Murray Law Offices
  • Greenbush Construction Co.
  • Time Hotel Nyack
  • Nyack Boat Charter
  • Nyack Sketch Log

Oct. 26 – Nyack Center’s Annual Monster Mash

Nyack Center is the place to go for families to enjoy live music, food and revelry after one of the largest Halloween parades outside of New York City.

Monster Mash directly Following the famous Nyack Halloween Parade. No entry fee. $5 for games and $5 for food

Oct. 26- Casa del Sol’s Halloween Parade Afterparty

Join Casa del Sol for their famous annual Halloween Parade Afterparty directly following the Nyack Halloween Parade.

Casa’s afterparty featuring food & drink specials, live music by Frankie Dee and the Boys, and cash prizes for the best costumes!

Call (845) 353-9846 to reserve your tables now, as they fill up fast!

Special thanks to Visit Nyack for their excellent Halloween calendar.

Bill Batson is an activist, artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. “Nyack Sketch Log: Celebrate Halloween Here ” © 2019 Bill Batson.


Nyack Sketch Log: Worldwide Community First Responders

by Bill Batson

The low-tech, durable whistle has been saving lives for centuries. Whistles were used by early police forces to disrupt crimes in progress. Women have been advised to use a whistle to loudly protest unwanted advances. This ancient instrument for raising an alarm is also an apt symbol for Jacqueline Cassagnol’s common sense approach to saving lives.

Cassagnol’s organization, Worldwide Community First Responders, distributes whistles, along with other medical supplies and basic necessities so that disaster victims can shelter in place and  direct first responders to their locations under rubble or debris. The disaster preparedness training and supplies that WCFR distributes in vulnerable communities around the world, delivered before natural disasters strike, are intended to reduce the loss of life.

Nyack Sketch Log spoke with Cassagnol to learn more about WCFR, who are having their eighth annual fundraiser this weekend at the Time Nyack Hotel.

What is WCFR?

Worldwide Community First Responder is a 501(c)(3) non-profit/charitable organization.  Our a mission is to prevent deaths worldwide through education and training. We offer two main services, health education and training. WCFR health education focuses on educating community members worldwide of fatal health conditions and preventative measures. WCFR’s training program is dedicated to providing worldwide community-based first response and first aid training.

“Teaching People – Saving Lives”

Here is an example of some of the information Worldwide Community First Responders (WCFR) distributes in Hurricane prone regions like Haiti. Cassagnol’s efforts were inspired by a comment made to her during a training session that she was giving after the devastating 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, “If we knew what you are teaching us right now, fewer people would have died during the earthquake.”

Be Hurricane Prepared!

Preparing for a hurricane takes time and effort, but it will be worth it if a hurricane should threaten to strike your area. Share these tips to help friends and family prepare during hurricane season.

Before a hurricane

  • Assess your risks and know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
  • Follow official instructions; shelter in place or evacuate.
  • Make a plan to communicate with family and find each other in an emergency.
  • Build supplies kit needed when you shelter in place or evacuate.

During a hurricane

  • Stay away from windows, in the middle room or closet of the house and under a heavy piece of furniture.
  • Stay informed; Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Turn off propane tanks, and utilities if instructed to do so.
  • Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.

After a hurricane

  • Wait until area is declared safe before returning home.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines.
  • Use good basic personal hygiene and hand washing.
  • Make water safer for drinking: distill it; strain it; boil it; chlorinate it.
  • Do not eat any food that may have come in contact with flood water.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Remember that recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process.

We provide our services worldwide to all communities regardless of gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, economic and social class. WCFR members are a diverse group of volunteers who provide their services free of charge. Through their efforts, WCFR members seek to empower individuals in their own communities and save lives.

Describe the moment you realized that the world needed Worldwide Community First Responder, Inc?

It all started after the 2010 earthquake when I was teaching first aid in Grand Goave, Haiti and a student stated ‘If we knew what you are teaching us right now, fewer people would have died during the earthquake.’

This statement touched me so deeply that I broke down in front of the classroom. I knew then that I had to continue doing this type of work.

When did you become a health care professional?

I became a nurse twenty years ago. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse.

I started as Licensed Practical Nurse, then went on to get my Associate of Science Degree in Nursing, then Bachelor of Science Degree, then Master of Science Degree, and then Post Master Certificate in Nursing Education. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Nursing Degree at Pace University.

What is your specialty?

My specialty is community health nursing. I have taught community health nursing in the United States and Haiti for about eight years. I always look forward to teaching and promoting volunteer work in my community health nursing courses. Leveraging nurses’ interest in volunteer work could improve the way nurses engage with their communities, expand the role of nurses as public health professionals, and foster the social desirability of healthful living.

What are some of the worst disasters that you have responded to?

The last disaster that I responded to was Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. More than 1,000 people died when Hurricane Matthew slammed into the island on Oct. 4. Although, WCFR is dedicated to providing its services before disasters happen, we sometimes participate in relief efforts to communities locally and abroad.

What are some of the issues that first responders are most concerned about in this day and age?

We believe that everyone should be a first responder. Everyone should know basic first aid in order to save lives. Since we train many community members in hands-only CPR, there  are some concerns about hurting a person while doing chest compressions. We always tell them that they are covered under the Good Samaritan Law.

How many individuals have taken your heath education and first aid and first response classes?

We have trained and educated over 350,000 people worldwide.

In what communities?

Our focus is the United States and Haiti, but we have been to Ireland, South Africa, and China.

Is Haiti ready for another natural disaster?

Haiti is not ready for another disaster, but we are doing as much as we can to train community members how to prepare for the next one.

What is next for WCFR?

We are growing and need more help than ever to meet our mission “to prevent deaths worldwide through education and training.” Our goal is to train and educate a total of 400,000 community members in 2020. One way to help is to attend our upcoming gala on October 5th, 2019.

If you would like to learn more about how to support the work of WCFR as a volunteer and sponsor, visit wcfrworldwide.org

The eighth annual WCFR fundraiser will be held on Saturday, October 5 at 6p at Time Nyack Hotel. For tickets click here.

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Worldwide Community First Responders“© 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.


Nyack Sketch Log: Joe Allen, Documentarian

by Bill Batson

As a documentarian, Joe Allen uses films to explore the perverse arithmetic of racism and antisemitism. In Two Schools in Hillburn, Allen exposed the binary cruelty of racial segregation that was tolerated in one town in Rockland County well into the 1940s, a practice brought to an end by a young attorney from the NAACP named Thurgood Marshall. His previous film, 20 Million Minutes  chronicled the interval between the massacre of 11 Jewish athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany in 1972 and the launching of a campaign to get the International Olympic Committee to commemorate the atrocity, a struggle that persists. Allen’s documentaries are helping new generations seek answers to seemingly intractable social problems.

Leadership Rockland will be showing “Two Schools in Hillburn,” tonight, Tuesday, September 24 at the Lafayette Theater in Suffern. Doors open at 6. There will be Q & A after the screening. The event is free to all Leadership Rockland Alumi. Register at leadershiprockland.org/two-schools-in-hillburn/

Nyack Sketch Log sat down with Allen to learn how he uses film to find social equations for equality.

When did you make your first documentary?

I made my first documentary in 2011 and 2012. It was the story of the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in Munich Germany in 1972 that killed 11 Israeli athletes. It tells the story of how JCC Rockland got involved with the families of the Munich 11 in an effort to move the International Olympic Committee to grant a minute of silence on the behalf of the murdered athletes.

What was the impetus?

JCC Rockland was, for the first time ever, going to host the JCC Maccabi Games, which is an Olympic-style event held all around the world for Jewish youth. At each set of games, there is a memorial to the Munich 11 during the opening of the event. JCC CEO David Kirschtel and I spoke about how Active International, the company I was working for at the time, could be involved in the games. During the course of that conversation, I asked David if he was documenting what JCC Rockland was doing at the games, and especially what he was planning to do for the Munich 11? At that moment the documentary, which was “20 Million Minutes,” was born.

In what field was your career?

I have been very fortunate to have a career that spanned being a journalist,  a corporate spokesperson, owning a small ad agency, being a writer and spending 25 very productive years at Active International, where I was in charge of corporate communications as well as heading up its philanthropic program, which we called Active Cares. I am now retired from Active and I am now a full-time filmmaker. I also consult on nonprofit and philanthropic issues as well as remaining involved in the nonprofit committee in Rockland.

What did you learn from making “20 Million Minutes?”

What was notable in the making of that film was the impact that JCC Rockland had on the world in bringing to light the issue of the Munich 11 and the lack of the victims being remembered at the Olympic Games where they participated and died. We didn’t expect the worldwide coming together of support of remembering these guys that we saw come about. After all, for 40 years their families were dismissed.

How far and wide has the film been distributed?

That particular film had a very narrow distribution and, in fact, that was a motivation to do a sequel, “There Was No Silence,” which premiered on Sept. 5, the 47th anniversary of the Munich Massacre. It tells the story of the 2012 Olympics, which the first movie focused on, but on all the things that have happened regarding the Munich 11 heading into the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Where “20 Million Minutes” ran at just under 90 minutes and was overwhelmingly Rockland County-centric,  the sequel runs at around 50 minutes to make it more palatable for younger people in schools, senior citizen groups, civic groups and others and to make it more acceptable to a national and even worldwide audience.

When did you pick the Brook School for Colored Children as a topic?

Cliff and Wylene Wood came to see my film about Hudson Valley Honor Flight, which was being shown in the Rockland Community College Theater in December 2015. Cliff Wood was president of the school at the time and Wylene was extremely well known in corporate responsibility circles, teaching civil rights circles. Shortly after they saw the film, Wylene called me and asked if I would be interested in doing a short video that could be shown in Hillburn at the dedication of the Main School as both federal and state historical place.

I began to do the research for that short video and realized what an important story it was, not just to Hillburn, nor to Rockland County, but to the entire country. For one, it brought a young attorney named Thurgood Marshall to Rockland to litigate the case and make the appeal to allow children of color to attend the all-white school. More than that, the Hillburn case taught Mr. Marshall many of the things he would need to know about Jim Crow (separate but equal) laws and attitudes as he prepared for Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, KS 10 years later. If the so-called Brown case is one of our country’s most important cases, then Hillburn was the place where he learned how to argue it.

Any thoughts on Thurgood?

Thurgood Marshall was a trailblazer for sure. He was part of the pre-civil rights legislation efforts that really laid the groundwork for what LBJ did in the early to mid 60s. But more than that, Thurgood Marshall was still one of the people who had a really difficult time making their way through really tough, segregated parts of both the South and the North in order to argue cases. Obviously, I didn’t know him so I can’t say things like he was fearless, but he and along with so many others of his generation appear to be fearless and were role models for those who came after them. They believed what’s right is right and that the effort get to what’s right should know no bounds.

His son, John, told me a story of not really knowing that his father was such an important man until one day he found himself on LBJ’s lap in the Oval Office, right when his dad was about to become a Supreme Court Justice–and only then did he figure that his dad was a pretty big deal. I also learned Thurgood Marshall had an affinity for model trains and, in fact, had a sophisticated train set-up in his apartment in New York. There were times when his interns would drop something off to his apartment and Thurgood would answer in full train regalia, hat and all.

Did the film making process reveal anything about the case that was not widely known?

The whole story was not widely known, I had lived in Rockland County for many years and I didn’t know about it. Many other people who worked in the media here also didn’t know about it. Some of the old-timers or some of our historians in the County knew about it, but the most surprising thing was that a case that was so essential to our entire country got very little airing and had very little publicity about it. The people in Hillburn knew about it but it wasn’t well-known in the county.

How are you feeling about the state of racial equality in American schools in 2019?

I believe we are standing on the edge of a very high and very narrow cliff these days. And while it’s true that there are laws on the books which will help to prevent inequality, it does feel that we are retreating and retrenching into some very bad historical portals. The gap between rich and poor  and the tribal nature of our behavior is making us turn to our neighbors and viewing those that don’t look like us or spend like us or enjoy what we enjoy or see America the way we see America as being part of the “other.”

Slowly but surely that attitude will erode the very symbols upon which we fought so hard to achieve together. It’s very difficult to say the state of racial relationships in schools and in society is a whole lot better now than it was. We are very lucky and at the same time cursed that there is such a plethora of media and commentary around us at all times. It’s much harder to miss an act of racial insensitivity or violence when everyone’s got a cell phone or camera and the media essentially is everywhere. That means what we do may be out there for all to see, forever–and when our behavior is bad that’ll be all over the news and all over the social media sites very quickly. Add to that, having a President who revels in that fact and endlessly stirs the pot and you have two sides who grow increasingly angry trying to find ways to deal with one another. The president’s zero-sum games all too often become our zero-sum games. You either support the police or you support entities like Black Lives Matter. But it’s never one or the other and yet we’re being forced to declare which side we are on? And we’re endlessly trying to put a square peg into a round hole by behaving that way.

Two of your topics engage in tolerance toward the Jewish and African American communities do you perceive parallels between these two communities?

Both those communities have felt the sting of stereotype and hatred through the years. Anti-Semitism and racism are found at the bottom of the same boiling cauldron of hate that our country unfortunately has as part of its very being. Our original sin of slavery and our original sin of displacing Native Americans fit in squarely with anti-Semitism.

I always believed that groups who have been ostracized and hated for what they are and then marginalized would be better in a unified approach to overcoming all that. I remember growing up with a lot of progressive Jews that were closely aligned with the civil rights struggle. I’m guessing they still are, so I don’t know why African Americans and Jews are not more tightly wound together.

I know you are actively engaged in the community through your work with People to People and other nonprofits.  Have you and your camera lens taken on the issue of hunger in America? What is your next project and where can we see it?

The newest project is the sequel to “20 Million Minutes.” As I said earlier, that film is called “There Was No Silence.” That film has a director’s cut premier on September 5 and will be widely released a bit later in the fall.

Now as far as hunger in America, we are down the road on a film called “Empty Cupboards.” It is about hunger in America and the way different communities are relying on their own capabilities and wherewithal to stay ahead of it without relying on the federal government for the solution. Government can pay part of the solution, but they can’t provide all of it as that gives too much power to the feds to solve the problem local communities. Organizations recovering food, changing raw materials in food production, presenting innovative ways of growing food and distributing what we grow, are in my opinion, leading the way in which we are going to solve the problem of hunger in America.

We throw away 40% of all food manufactured in the US. That alone is enough to feed everyone and what we’re throwing away isn’t the bad stuff, it’s the stuff that wasn’t perfectly shaped or perfectly colored or too much of which was put out in the buffets and now can’t be used. We need to think smarter and we need to think how to save our communities that are at risk for hunger. That film will be out in the first half of next year. You can expect that film to have a very wide distribution!

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Joe Allen, Documentarian“© 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.


Nyack Sketch Log: Women Who Dine, For a Cause

by Bill Batson

When non-profits faced across the board reductions in funding in 2014, a group of women came together to break and raise some bread. Women Who Dine For a Cause have held almost 30 fundraising gatherings in the last five years. Their no-frills affairs are in stark contrast to traditional fundraising, where organizations must spend big bucks to raise bigger bucks. With Women Who Dine for a Cause, you go to a private home, bring a dish and a check, made out to a charity, and the community group receives the nourishment.

Nyack Sketch Log met with one of the founding members, Paula Davis, to learn more about their low-overhead, high-return community-based fundraising paradigm.

How did women who dine for a cause start dining?

We got started five years ago when the Rockland County decreased funding for all non-profits.

A few women got together to brainstorm how we could help. The founders were myself, Emily Dominguez, Liz Kallen, Donna Schmidt, Rochelle Spooner, and Enid Weishaus.

Where and when was the first gathering?

It was at my house. At first, we didn’t know what we were doing. We didn’t take into account what happens if it rains, what do we do with the extra food, how many people will come. It was all a mystery, but it was spectacular because over 100 women came. Marla Pasquale sang and she was fabulous and Caroyln Fish spoke for Center for Safety and Change. And most importantly, we raised money to support the Center’s work.

How many dinners have you held?

We’ve had almost 30 dinners, that average about 80 women at each and we’ve raised over $80,000 for Rockland County non-profits

What happens at a dinner?

Each guest brings a dish to share. These are great opportunities for people to network or reconnect with people you haven’t see for awhile. We have delicious fun…for a cause!

What are some of the memorable moments over the last five years?

I think the most memorable moment was when we recognized United Hospice of Rockland. So many attendees had cause to use in their services in their personal lives. There were so many heartfelt testimonials.

It was amazing when Meals on Wheels showed up with a truckload of food. They are so super generous.

And when Tom Chapin performed with Michael Marks. It was such a crowd pleaser. They were just so friendly and stayed and had dinner and spoke to everyone.

It’s overwhelming to me the generosity in this county

So many women open their homes to us. We’ve seen the goodness of people, which is so important at a time like this, locally and nationally.

Do any men dine?

No. They park cars, and carry in food if we need help.

They get nice shirts to wear that say “schlepper.”

How did your experience in education inform your work?

I worked with special needs children, so I’ve always known that people, all people, need some extra help.

What other philanthropic efforts are you involved in?

My husband Steven Abel has been involved with Center for Safety and Change for over 35 years. I always tried to help out.

Would you like to see Women Who Dine happen in other communities?

I welcome anybody’s efforts to contribute to our county’s non-profits.

What’s next for Women Who Dine for A Cause?

This is the 40th anniversary of the Center for Safety and Change and the 5th anniversary of Women Who Dine for a Cause. They will be our cause when we dine next on September 25th. It’s going to be at a wonderful location and the Old No.7 Band will perform. It is a full circle occasion, as we celebrate our fifth anniversary with the first group that we supported.

In November, will be dining for Helping Hands, who are really in need of support. They have a tremendous breakfast program in the county.

What would a woman do if they wanted to dine with you for a cause?

They would register at www.womendine.net, bring a dish…and a check (in whatever amount they can contribute

And the future?

Going forward, we are fortunate enough to have young women joining our committees. I think they will take the mantle.

Special thanks to George Pejoves for the wonderful picture over the years.

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Women Who Dine, For a Cause“© 2019 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.com to see more.