Dear Neighbor, 

We interrupt our usual newsletter flow with a very important message: 


What a journey it’s been for Epicenter since our July 2020 launch. We started as a newsletter to get through the pandemic and are evolving (always evolving) into a community journalism movement. None of that would have been possible without you. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll take a look back at the ways we’ve grown into an essential service for so many New Yorkers, whether finding places to donate diapers on this weekly email or calling our hotline to navigate boosters. 

Thanks to the miracle of science and vaccines, New York is finding its new normal. In a recent podcast, I admitted my favorite sound is the warning bell before Broadway shows to take your seat. I’m really happy to note I’ve spent some nights this fall at the theater: “Jagged Little Pill,” “The Lehman Trilogy” and Fall for Dance where I was mesmerized by the Streb troupe. 

We also need your help as we find our place in the next New York. Here’s how: 

  • Ask your friends to subscribe to this newsletter. We deliver news and information that is actionable.  
  • Subscribe to one of our three tiers of membership, as little as $5 a month or $299 a year to be the ultimate insider, aka Auntie status. 
  • Tell us what you need. Every week, we hear from you (mostly via phone calls) seeking services from tutoring for kids to finding affordable healthcare. Keep that dialogue coming via or 917-818-2690. 
  • Volunteer with us. We have thrice-weekly events (lately in Queens Village) and could really use your help to keep up with distributing the vaccine and other community outreach. 
  • Assign us stories. Our best ideas come from you. Tip of the hat to subscriber Siobhan Watson for noticing that Elmhurst had more vaccinated more people than its official population. Read on for more of that. 
  • If you’re an artist (poets, playwrights, painters, dancers) submit your work. We pay $100 for accepted pieces. 

We will be repeating this message early and often this holiday season. Your support helps build a sustainable, disruptive newsroom that is owned, led and primarily written/edited/distributed/designed by people of color. That diversity extends to our business model, a mix of grants, advertising and membership that’s allowed us to make important hires and keep on expanding. 

7,000+. That’s the number of neighbors who turned to Epicenter staff, volunteers and partners to get Covid-19 vaccines. 

For trusting us, we give thanks. Read on for more of my and our team’s reflections this week. We’ll be back after the holiday to keep connecting neighbors to news, information and each other. 


S. Mitra Kalita

S. Mitra Kalita, C
o-founder & Publisher
Every day of 2020, I have pushed myself to itemize my gratitude. The exercise results in a very long list but, more importantly, has helped me keep my eye on the big picture during some really tough times. We are healthy. We are housed. We are employed. We are alive. 

Photo: Epicenter NYC

This will be the first Thanksgiving in my parents’ downsized, one-level house, which is bittersweet. My father used to make the turkey in an Indian style with a tandoori-ginger spice rub and stuffed with cashews and raisins. I will forever associate this holiday with his creative efforts, his stories combining boyhood mischief and life lessons from James Baldwin and Jerry Seinfeld. Last year, he had another stroke that was more debilitating than the last, so he’s not really cooking anymore. I miss my father. But I’m grateful he’s still with us, and I’m also grateful my husband and brother have been brainstorming fowl and seafood recipes, not to replace what we’ve lost as much as continue a tradition of togetherness. 

Every week, my phone rings several times with an unknown number asking for Epicenter’s help navigating some aspect of life in this great city. I’m grateful for this, too. The chance to center Queens, to serve an audience in myriad ways, from this newsletter and our site to podcasts and livestreams, has been pretty incredible. I am grateful it’s working and, above all, I am grateful for all of you, dear neighbors, and your role in it. 

Nitin Mukul, C
o-founder & Creative Director
I’m thankful for:

– Having the good fortune of a stable, safe existence, when there are so many in the world who lack things as basic as food, shelter, safety, education, access to medicine, and freedom of expression.

Photo courtesy of Nitin Mukul

– All our essential workers who put themselves at risk daily so that we can enjoy health, safety and some sense of normalcy as we continue to navigate this pandemic.

– All the artists for elevating our cultural IQ and raising awareness.

– All the supporters, subscribers and staff that keep Epicenter NYC going.

– My wife, family, friends, and children who got me this far and give me hope for a bright future.

– The Earth, for sustaining and putting up with us humans for this long, let’s try to respect it!

– Edison, our loyal canine companion!

Photo courtesy of Kim Narisetti

Kim Narisetti, Editor 
I lost both of my parents within 4.5 months over the course of this year and I was crippled with grief. I’m thankful that I find joy in life every day again and can laugh without crying. I’m thankful for my kids, my crazy pets, my family and streaming services. 

Photo courtesy of Janelle Zagala

Janelle Zagala, Operations Manager 
This year I am thankful for the time I’ve been able to spend with my friends and family. I have been fortunate enough to have the means to travel safely to see elderly grandparents, go on family backpacking trips, see some of our closest friends and family get married, and spend quality time with my five nieces and nephews. I am especially thankful for the scientists, healthcare workers, public servants and volunteers who have made this possible with the development and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Photo courtesy of Danielle Hyams

Danielle Hyams, Editorial Director 
I’m grateful for my family, friends, boyfriend, health and employment, all of which have allowed me to live a life aligned with my values and priorities, which I think is a great privilege. At the moment, life has brought me to Mexico City, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn everything I can about this vibrant, welcoming and rich country. 

Photo courtesy of Macarena Moreno

Macarena Moreno, Executive Assistant
2021 is the year where I have felt the most thankful of all my life as we welcomed our baby Mateo last April. I am thankful to be his mom and to see him healthy and happy every day. Motherhood is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Secondly, I am thankful for every event that has made it possible that my family could come to visit us from Spain, from having access to the vaccine to having a home to welcome them. Finally, but not least, I am thankful for my husband; he is my biggest support and companion.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Laplaza

Daniel Laplaza, Community Manager
This year, I am particularly grateful for the healthy bodies and minds that allow me, my family, and my friends to share our love with one another. I am grateful that we are all well enough to exchange that love through our gestures, experiences and words. There’s a Kurt Vonnegut quote that reminds me of this gratitude, “a purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.” I am grateful for that purpose.

Photo courtesy of Andrea Pineda-Salgado

Andrea Pineda-Salgado, Community Reporter 
2020 was a waiting period for me. Waiting for quarantine to end, waiting for New York to open back up, waiting to finally graduate and get a job. That waiting period was a fuzzy time that didn’t seem to have an ending in sight. But then 2021 came around and along came vaccines, Broadway shows, a graduation and a job (thankfully here at Epicenter!) So this year I am so grateful for time. Only with time was all the fuzziness able to clear itself up. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that all the waiting I did last year would make 2021’s blessings so much sweeter.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Perrino

Nicole Perrino, Writer, The Unmuted (Epicenter’s sister newsletter covering education in NYC — subscribe here)
I know everyone says it, but I am truly grateful for family and friends this Thanksgiving. Grateful for the family I have, the family I created and the friends who have become family. I’m so grateful for the love they show me and the support they’ve always given me over the years — and allowing me to be the same for them. Having people you can laugh with, go on adventures with and a shoulder to cry on when needed is so important and I don’t go a day without reminding myself how truly blessed I am. 

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