March 18, 2020

Dear Friends:

Thank you all for your prayers, support, and concern for the backstretch community during this very challenging time.
I’m writing to give you a general update on the current situation at the track, including preparations for the coronavirus as well as office hours.
The NY Race Track Chaplaincy is working in partnership with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (NYTHA), the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and the Backstretch Employee Service Team (BEST).  
The recently formed NYRA Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, which is comprised of key NYRA staff members as well as representatives from NYTHA, BEST, and myself from the NY Chaplaincy, is monitoring and assessing developments regarding the coronavirus.
The team is communicating with the backstretch community on a regular basis via text and email communication regarding the most prudent steps to take. Information provided includes specific points of contact, actions to take in the event of illness, and reference to an on-track clinic for testing and supplies.
In addition to the specific information we are providing, we are seeking to reassure everyone, in this emotionally challenging time, that the NY Chaplaincy is here to serve our community in fulfillment of our God-given mission.
For the safety of those we serve, as well as our staff, we have made the decision to close our Belmont office at least for at least the week of March 16th, except for the food pantry distribution which will take place on Thursday from 11 AM – 1 PM. I will be out in the field as well as in planning meetings and discussions. This is a very fluid situation and we will adapt our schedule as necessary and prudent as circumstances change.
We have also cancelled our Monday Chapel Services and recreation activities, until further notice.
I ask for your prayers for the health and safety of all we serve, as well as our staff, and that by God’s grace all may remain calm in the face of an uncertain and challenging situation.
Many have asked how they may support the backstretch community during this time. One important way to do this is to support our food pantry. Not surprisingly, during this time, demand is up and donations are down. We would greatly appreciate your support either financially or through in-kind donations. 

Thank you so much to those who have already donated, and thank you to Debbie Finley and the entire West Point Thoroughbred family of partners for leading the way with their generosity.

Information about donating to the food pantry may be found by clicking on the button at the end of this note.

As always, we invite you to reach out to us at anytime with your prayer requests by emailing me at
God Bless You All,
Chaplain Humberto

NY Race Track Chaplaincy