April Gariepy and her daughter, 11-year-old Maya Skeffinton, spent most of the quarantine period hunkered down together in their Clinton Hill apartment.
A Boston native, Gariepy moved to Brooklyn 18 years ago when she was 22. April recalled that she relocated to the Big Apple with a couple hundred dollars and a dream – but no job.
She worked a few odd jobs in the beginning before landing her first professional full-time position with the American Civil Liberties Union at its headquarters in Manhattan.
In the midst of her New York work experience, April fell in love with Central Brooklyn.
“I remember how familiar Brooklyn felt when I moved here, even though I’d never visited! I would see the street signs and remember references from books I’d read and song lyrics I’d committed to memory. Overall, the vibe of Brooklyn and its beautiful people and culture had me hooked from day one,” she said.
April is the director of strategic planning for the New York City Employees’ Retirement System. When the lockdown started, she turned her apartment into an office space for herself and a classroom for Maya. Their home also served several other purposes: restaurant, gym, spa, greenhouse and nightclub.
It was also Maya’s dance studio. The sixth-grader attends Ballet Tech, the NYC public school for dance, where she received four hours per day of professional ballet training.
During the pandemic, April found herself juggling work, taking care of the home and overseeing Maya’s remote learning classes. It was overwhelming.
If that wasn’t enough, April’s father tested positive for COVID-19. He was living in a nursing home facility where 17 residents died from the virus. And her mother was in an assisted living facility, where the rules for visits were complicated.
“The fear I felt for their lives was deep,” she said. “Needless to say, I also shared in the suffering of my friends and neighbors, who experienced the pandemic in varied, and horrible ways, including losing livelihoods, shuttering businesses, and losing loved ones.”
April coped with the stress from the pandemic by slowing down and taking things “day by day, and sometimes hour by hour.”