(NEW YORK – May 4, 2020) – Harlem, the cultural hub of Uptown Manhattan, is home to a long and rich history of artists, educators, athletes, and entertainers. From Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday to Thurgood Marshall, Maya Angelou, and Marcus Samuelsson, the spirit of the Harlem community has always embraced its most visionary thinkers. Add to that list, Tammeca Rochester, Reese Scott, Maurice Talton and Jahkeen Washington, Harlem entrepreneurs who believe their neighborhood deserves the absolute best in health and wellness.
On March 15th, these four boutique fitness studio owners were forced to close their doors due to COVID-19 and have been working relentlessly to support and serve their community remotely ever since. “Our biggest fear was that our community would be the hardest hit from this pandemic and so we quickly created free workouts, free immune boosting recipes, hosted wellness sessions via social media and stayed in touch with as many of our clients as possible” says Tammeca owner and founder of Harlem Cycle, Harlem’s 1st and only boutique cycling studio.
With little help from the government the road to reopening is uncertain for these four small businesses. With less than 10% of Harlem owned businesses receiving funding from the PPP program, it is clear all small businesses are not seen as equal. Due to the lack of financial support to businesses in the community, these founders do not expect different results as the next round of grants are released from the SBA.
“COVID-19 is shining a bright light on inequalities in our country. We see communities of color and small businesses are getting hit the hardest. But we are not going to take it lying down. Voices like ours matter,” says Tammeca. “Small businesses matter, female founders matter, communities of color matter… we all matter…. equally”.
The world, country and especially the city we call home, New York City has fallen on unprecedented times. Our mental and physical health are of paramount importance, especially as we navigate this global crisis. To continue serving a community heavily hit by COVID-19, this dynamic group of Harlem based health & wellness entrepreneurs formed the Harlem Fitness Covid Relief Fund. This coalition hopes to bring much-needed awareness and attention to the critical need for financial relief for the small businesses working diligently to support members of the Harlem community through health, wellness and continued connectivity.
“We have to do something different. We opened our doors to serve our community and now we are asking our community to help in making sure we can continue to serve”, says Reese Scott, Owner of Women’s World of Boxing, the only private Women’s Boxing gym in Manhattan.