Men Who Make a Difference

A Father's Day Salute

Eli Batin
Owner, The Barn

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business?

The Barn lost over 50% of its business and we had to cut back to delivery and take-out only. It’s a difficult position to be in because I have staff members who are dependent on the business for their income.

What inspired you to help?

We received an order from an elderly customer who was isolated at home and was hoping we could deliver to her. After receiving such a heartfelt ask, we added a few rolls of toilet paper in case she was unable to get to the store. She thanked me endlessly. It was rewarding to see how a small gesture goes a long way. I decided to do the same for other elderly individuals who are homebound or financially limited with assistance from individuals who supported us by volunteering to deliver meals and contribute financially.

What does business look like to you, moving forward?

We may have to limit the number of dine-in customers and use more disposable items. Staff may have to wear masks and gloves while serving. However, we are committed to adapting in order to keep the food scene alive. I know that we will get back to “business as usual” someday. We’re looking forward to once again gathering inside our old Barn with friends and creating new memories.


Scott Lief
President, Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce
Business: Senior Loan Officer at Atlantic Home Loans

How were you affected by the pandemic?

I work from home normally, so that wasn’t a change. However, my routine road trips to see clients and realtors are over for the time being. The good side is that I haven’t worn a tie in a month!

Thankfully, no one in my family has been affected, but when I learned of the passing of Ridgewood resident Jean Thomas, I was choked up. He was the first person I knew personally who passed from COVID-19.

What steps has the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce taken to support the community and assist local businesses? 

I am in regular communication with Ridgewood Mayor Ramon Hache, which led to a collaboration called Feed the Frontlines, which feeds Valley healthcare workers, the Ridgewood Fire Department, EMTs, and people in need. Fundraising is through Healthbarn Foundation, a local 501(c)3. Those tax-deductible donations buy meals from local restaurants which are then delivered by a fleet of volunteers. In addition, the Chamber has been working tirelessly to disseminate information regarding government loans and relief efforts. 

What are your thoughts on how things will change for businesses moving forward? 

The new normal is a question that has yet to be answered. Will a crowded bar or restaurant be a thing of the past? We all hope not. We’ll have to wait and see.


John Mormando
Commodities Trader/Triathlete/Marathoner

How were you affected by both 9/11 and COVID-19?

I was working near Ground Zero in 2001. Because of the airborne toxins, I was diagnosed with a related cancer. After multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation, I am now in full remission, but the fear of cancer always exists. When I tested positive for COVID-19, I spent a week in the hospital. It was a nightmare--these illnesses changed my life forever. I now cherish each day and try not to take anything for granted. Two near-death experiences in two years will do that to you! 

What are your goals in sharing awareness of your experiences?

In 2018 I was diagnosed with male breast cancer. This is very rare for men, but there was a cluster of cases near Ground Zero. I went public with media interviews to urge men who worked or lived there to get checked. I was just trying to do my part to help.

Upon recovering from the coronavirus, I wanted those who were sick to understand that you can get through it and to focus on the positive rather than the negative, and to continue social distancing. We are all in this together, and we will win this battle.

How are you “getting back to normal”?

I had registered for an Ironman 70.3 and an Ironman 140.6 this year. Unfortunately, the 70.3 has been postponed and most likely the 140.6 will be too. Because of the coronavirus, my training has been reduced to just walking. I hope to be able to get back on track and compete in a sprint triathlon or a half marathon later in the year.

Michael Tizzoli
CEO, West Bergen Mental Health Care

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your organization?

The outbreak has required us to think differently about everything we do.

We rapidly moved from a “face-to-face" model to telephone/online counseling for our outpatients. This required building technological infrastructure, training therapists, and encouraging clients to use it.

Maintaining our group homes required keeping all staff and clients as isolated as possible, ensuring staff remains healthy, and canceling trips and outings.

What new or different services did you have to initiate during this time?

In addition to online counseling, we launched an expedited grief process for clients who suffered a loss due to the virus. We are launching a warmline for frontline workers addressing the potential for an increase in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They have seen and experienced things that they may never have before. I expect we will see an increase in depression and anxiety as well. 

What do you see coming down the road?

We will be challenged with an increased number of clients, but we will step up and meet the need. When this is all over, I think we will have learned some incredible lessons about the resilience of all human beings (especially those with mental illnesses).

As the CEO of a non-profit organization, what inspires you each day?

Our Clients. They have an internal strength that inspires me in a way that is difficult to put into words. 

Our Staff. We have a very special culture here and our staff really cares about our clients.

Our Supporters. Our Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, donors, and volunteers all support our clients. There is beauty knowing that people come for treatment and have no idea that there is an army of volunteers who are quietly cheering them on. It's really something special.    

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