A Community Comes Together

A few weeks ago, Icy Frantz launched “The Icing on the Cake” at icyfrantz.net. Although the name may lead you to believe you’re about to learn how to bake a delicious butter-cream creation (which is certainly possible— Icy happens to know her way around the kitchen…), “The Icing on the Cake” is much more. After writing for the Greenwich Sentinel, Icy discovered a unique connection with her readers—in her willingness to be honest and tell her story, others opened up and shared their stories with her, too.

Allison “Icy” Scott Frantz grew up in Fairfield County, after which she graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She received her Alcohol and Drug counseling certificate from Marymount Manhattan College and worked in the field of drug and alcohol prevention and education at the Freedom Institute in Manhattan and at Greenwich Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut. She served as the Assistant Director of the International Institute for Alcohol Education and Training, working with professionals in Russia and Poland. Icy is the author of Sargeant’s Heaven, a children’s book that she wrote after the death of her fourth child, to help children process the loss of a loved one. While raising her four children, she has sat on the Boards of Greenwich Country Day School, The Taft School, Arch Street Teen Center, and the Parents Board of Bucknell University, and has volunteered for Liberation Programs, LifeBridge, OSSO, and Inspirica. Icy currently writes a column for the Greenwich Sentinel and is co founder of CT WOMEN UNITED, an organization created to inspire and educate women about local and state politics. She lives in Riverside, Connecticut with her husband, her two dogs, two cats, a fish, and her four children.

Icy Frantz

This time of year, Greenwich rises from a winter of deep hibernation and takes to its streets, to celebrate together the coming of spring. This year could not be more different. Parking places—usually so hard to find—are empty, popular restaurants and retail stores on the Avenue have turned off their lights, beaches are closed until further notice, and schools—lacking their usual buzz—have converted to remote learning. But while the landscape is bleak, the community, my community, has opened its heart and found ways to come together like never before at a time when we are physically apart.

Everyone is pitching in. Our first selectman allocated money from the raining day fund to help our neediest. Neighbor to Neighbor, a local food pantry, moved into our teen center, now closed, for better access and to utilize the much larger space. Meals-On-Wheels, Inc. of Greenwich, CT, a nonprofit that delivers food to the elderly, fielded hundreds of calls from those hoping to volunteer. Residents donated and distributed a million masks and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to hospitals and nursing homes through Masks for CT.

Neighbor to Neighbor lines up packed bags of groceries to be delivered to local residents in need.

We are sharing our talents. A Julliard trained pianist and organist offers daily music on social media, and local yogis and trainers provide classes for those of us in search of some exercise. A DJ, native to Greenwich, has spun online for two fundraisers, providing virtual house parties from the comfort of your own house. A librarian has placed a box of books on her front yard—take a book, leave a book. And a small business owner has started a food donation program from takeout-only restaurants to feed our night nurses and doctors at Greenwich Hospital.

While New Yorkers took to their balconies to sing “New York, New York”, Greenwich made its own music. Church bells rang, car horns honked, cannons blew, pots and pans clanged; a coordinated effort to thank our medical professionals and our essential workers.

And last week, we came together with our tri-state neighbors from our own backyards to watch the salute to the heroes on the front line, the start of the cross-country tour by the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. 

Like many families in Greenwich, ours grew. Our children—at various stages of life—returned to their childhood bedrooms, as our kitchen table became a place of connection, conversation, and games (in addition to fine dining, catered by me). Mudrooms and dens altered their purpose and became makeshift offices and study centers. 

Frantz family dinner

But life goes on despite the pandemic. We celebrated our daughter’s 14th birthday with a surprise Zoom party at the beginning of our shelter in place. I had yet to become proficient with what was then a new way for me to use technology, so we limped through the invite and the set up (and the video on, and the mute off…), and we sang “Happy Birthday” with school friends and family scattered across the country. 

Icy and her family celebrate a 14th birthday with a surprise Zoom party.

Next week, we will celebrate a son’s graduation from college. He handed in his senior thesis—virtually—a rite of passage usually recognized with an evening of merriment with friends, and we will watch a ceremony with all of its pomp and circumstance, online. 

 And because life also ends during this pandemic, I joined a group in front of a friend’s house and, from the safety of our cars, listened to one lone bagpiper play “Amazing Grace” as we memorialized a father who had died in a nursing home from COVID-19. We lit candles and we cried.

Greenwich, a town often noted for its affluence and privilege, has had very deep reserves for this pandemic far beyond the monetary, and those reserves are overflowing with grit, generosity, and gratitude. 

Frantz family puzzle