New Yorkers rising up together to meet unprecedented challenges is in the fabric of this great city.
Through the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen countless examples of the community-minded selflessness and resilience associated with New York City and we’ve been inspired by those who have raised a hand and stepped up to help their fellow citizens.
In this spirit, we are setting out to reflect what’s truly undeNYable about our city and the people who make up our extended NYCFC family, all doing whatever it takes today to be back together again tomorrow through the sport we love.
undeNYable is a series of weekly themed stories here on NYCFC.com, holding up members of the NYCFC family who’ve shown the meaning of "For The City", coming through for their fellow New Yorkers when it has mattered most.
Three years ago, recent Business and Technology of Fashion graduate Jenniffer Quezada was talked into her first New York City FC match by friends. She wasn’t much of a sports fan at the time, but this lifelong New Yorker quickly found a strong sense of community on the bleachers at Yankee Stadium.
Before the whistle even blew at the end of the first half of her first match, Jenniffer was singing the chants and learning the rules of the game, thanks to a little help from some new friends: “Little by little, I was learning more about sports and soccer,” Jenniffer remembered, “Ever since then, I've been just bringing more and more friends to the games and showing them the beauty of it. Even though I'm in fashion, somehow, I ended up loving soccer very much.”
Jenniffer was welcomed with open arms by fellow supporters. From making friends in the stands to fans reaching out on social media to invite her to matches, NYCFC became family: “It makes it feel as if you belong to a community. You belong to a family that looks out for one another. I'll even bring in people from fashion or designers that don't even know anything about sports. I'll bring them to the game, and they become a part of the team, part of the community.”
The entire New York City area has been become severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For Jenniffer and her family, the impact was direct: “My parents and I we all tested positive, so it was difficult on us. It was very difficult on our bodies and even our mental health.”
However, even with the MLS season suspended, Jenniffer still found that sense of community amongst supporters during such a difficult time. “A bunch of the supporters, even though they're so far away, they would FaceTime me or drop off food at my door knowing that I can’t go to a supermarket. That's what makes NYCFC so special to me, to my heart.”
When Jenniffer and her family recovered, she began taking the first steps to bring hope to her community: “I found out that there were elderly people that lived in my building. I met up with one of the NYCFC supporters so we could go grab bags of food and give it out to the neighbors that aren't capable, or are afraid to go out to the supermarket due to their age. It just goes to show how united us New Yorkers are to help one another.”
As the third generation of her family working in the fashion industry and CEO of her own company, Digital Moda, Jenniffer knew she had another opportunity to use her talents and resources to support the community. Living in the city, she saw firsthand how fellow New Yorkers were struggling through the pandemic. She’d notice people wearing poor quality masks, or that many couldn’t access a face covering at all.
She’d hear stories from her friends about their family members in the hospital. That’s when Jenniffer decided to switch the priorities at the factory over to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help the community.
“It’s broken my heart so much to the point that I had to tell all of my staff at Digital Moda that we have to stop production for our clients that are looking to make their clothes and garments for the summer and for the fall,” Jenniffer told NYCFC.com, “If we have the ability to make masks that would mean the world to me. I'm making a change. I'm making a difference. This means a lot to me, more than a dollar sign. More than what really garments and fashion and style is. This is mostly about helping one another during a pandemic.”
New York City FC’s front office caught wind of Jenniffer’s PPE production plans and reached out to organize the donation of club merchandise and jerseys that the factory could use as materials. The opportunity to collaborate with her favorite team was overwhelming and exciting news for Jenniffer.
“When I first saw the message, I was completely shocked,” she recalled, “I was dealing with finals too. I was writing my essays just on an hour of sleep, and coffee, coffee, consistent coffee. I couldn't even speak for a good five minutes. I was so speechless. I was just nonstop shaking out of like happiness.”
From there, Jenniffer made late night calls to her staff and friends to share the news: “Hey, I know this is late, but I have some good news. I know we were making masks for the community, but I think we're teaming up with the best team in New York and I'm really excited for that.”
As the demands in the hospitals shifted, so did production at the factory. First, they began producing masks, but then quickly began making medical gowns as well. With the NYCFC merchandise donation, Jenniffer hopes to see the masks her company is producing be worn by NYCFC players, fans, frontline workers, and New Yorkers alike.
While the work continues for Jenniffer Quezada and Digital Moda, she shares a message of hope and encouragement for her fellow New Yorkers, “Stay safe, stay home, help one another. During this time, please, please check up on those that are in much need of help. Those that don't have the ability to voice out, those that are afraid to voice out. Ask them if they need any help, if they need a mask even such as we're making. Just keep safe. We make it here. We are For The City.”