Student Story: Strong Support Helps Deal With Consequences From The COVID-19 Outbreak

By: Thomas E. Edmund, Jr.Gateway Regional High School

NATIONAL PARK, N.J. — In times of crisis and uncertainty, love, and comfort from family members, colleagues, and friends can provide the reassurance to confront the challenges that come along the way. Outcomes of the COVID-19 outbreak should not be faced alone, but with support from others who know that no one should struggle through adversity by themselves.

Deb Price, whose mother-in-law Jane had been transported between the nursing home in which she resided and the hospital during the COVID-19 quarantine/pandemic, recently passed away due to health complications. Price expressed the frustration of not being able to have visitation rights amid the health crisis and the overall struggle of knowing that a loved one is all alone. “The hard part in the end was that we couldn’t have a proper funeral because of the virus,’’ Price lamented.

Knowing the circumstances surrounding her mother-in-law’s health condition, Price said that she and husband, Greg, have received lots of support from family members and work colleagues. Price is currently not working due to the closure of schools; she is a Food Service Worker for the Swedesboro/Woolwich School District. Greg is the manager of one of the many Wal-Mart locations around South Jersey. Price also stated that her family had to rely on both the staff at the nursing home and the hospital to provide updates on her mother-in-law’s condition.

Having to deal with a crisis such as this, Price remembered just how strong she had to be to work through its challenges and how important it was to receive support from friends and family during this difficult time. She had to recognize that she had to be there alongside others who were grieving the loss of her mother-in-law. She has learned from this experience that it is important to accept any support when it is offered and that everything works out for a reason. Looking ahead and considering the pandemic/quarantine, Price said, “I am very concerned that something like this can stop the world. We need to be better prepared and stop these things before they start. We need to follow precautions whether you like it or not.’’

Denise Conte, the owner and operator of Denise’s Creative Touch in Westville, NJ, purchased the salon back in 2005 after working for the previous owner. She is the third owner of the salon which has been welcoming customers for more than fifty years and has always worked to make sure the salon is thriving. 

Remembering the economic recession of 2008, Conte commented, “I thought it would be temporary but that turned into years. Most small businesses were failing but we still had enough clients to pay the expenses. So we worked hard one week at a time with the constant thought that we may have to close. We survived and became stronger.’’ 

When Conte first opened the salon under her ownership, she employed five employees but due to some unforeseen circumstances, those employees have had to move on, leaving Conte to work alone. “I had to go to work so I did one day at a time. Now I’m the only one because I have so many loyal clients I could not close again; I had to try to keep it going. Everything fell into place, everyone was happy, working alone was great, I even took two vacations and haven’t done that in years, all was well,’’ observed Conte.

Since March 18, Conte has been unable to return to the salon, as per Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order, which required all non-essential commercial businesses to remain closed indefinitely. She has been working in a salon for about 47 years, and has been considering retirement but multiple factors have discouraged that thought from coming to fruition. “My clients are all patiently waiting and calling, wanting to be the first appointment. How can I not go back? With the help of my landlord and my creditors working with me, it will be possible to open, hopefully in early June,” Conte realized. She has been grateful for the support she has received from her husband, daughter, family and friends as well as her numerous clients.  To her, it is comforting to know that so many people want to see her continue with her business while complying with whatever guidelines she needs to follow. 

Aside from the frustrations and depression that comes with not being able to return to work and solve problems of uncertain times, Conte has outlined her plans to re-open: “I work alone — one appointment at a time. It will be by appointment only; no walk-ins during the pandemic. Salons already comply with State board guidelines, we will now have the addition of taking everyone’s temperature, using face masks, and making time to sanitize after each client.’’

Thomas E. Edmund, Jr., “TJ”, is a senior at Gateway Regional High School in Woodbury Heights, NJ and an intern at After graduation, he will be attending Rowan College of Southern New Jersey to begin his quest to become a journalist.