NYC During Covid-19 and the 2020 Census — Reflections on Resiliency

By Andrew Erway, Ariva Census Captain & Financial Counselor

This pandemic has become the reason why we need the Census: we need an accurate count of our people in order to serve them.

A train on the track will keep moving regardless of what lies in front of it. It doesn’t pause for very long at a destination, nor does it stop to think about what lies ahead. Most notably, it will not let obstacles stand in its way at any cost. It just keeps moving. New York City is like a train on the track, resiliently moving and unstoppable no matter what adversity it is faced with.

Born and raised a Pennsylvanian, I was not used to the “train on a track” mentality. Life, for us, is experienced at a far slower pace. So when COVID-19 made its way into NYC and we all adapted very quickly, I was left amazed — yet not surprised — at how NYC continued to push forward. Workplaces adapted and our frontline personnel kept serving. And while NYC’s trains were fewer, they continued to run, all the same, resiliently moving and unstoppable.

Then came the 2020 Census. In the midst of uncertainty and newness, doubt, and confusion, the Census had to be completed. I had prepared for the initiative and understood the need for completing it accurately. In all honesty, I questioned if now was the right time to get everyone counted. COVID-19, as for many of us, caused me to go to a place of so much doubt. However, the resiliency of this city and its inhabitants made me understand and believe that we will push through. No matter what, we just keep going.

Here at Ariva, we are still going, too. The Census is not yet over. While it’s important to see how far we’ve come, we must continue to be who we are and push forward. This pandemic has become the reason why we need the Census: we need an accurate count of our people in order to serve them. We didn’t know that COVID-19 would come to our beloved city, but it did. What comes next could be catastrophic, pleasant, or somewhere in between, so we need to be ready and we need to be counted.

Being part of the 2020 Census during the time of COVID-19 is what made me, a former Pennsylvania guy, realize what NYC is all about. Asking residents if they have self-responded to the Census was just the opening conversation of something far more powerful. At Ariva, we prioritize opportunity, inclusion, and justice, so we made it a point to ask our community two things: Have you responded to the Census? And, how are you doing right now?

Many of our clients expressed that they are managing, while others were relieved that we could help them. We do what we always do: assist with taxes and finances in a time of great need, fill in the blanks with city services, and express why the Census is so important right here and right now. And our clients? They did what they always do: showed that they, too, are resiliently moving forward and unstoppable, not allowing disappointment and hardship stand in their way. Not now and not ever.

Complete the 2020 Census: