If there is one thing that unites the Hance family, it’s family dinner. The only rule is that you show up hungry with no cell phone in hand.
Raquel Hance, the chef of the Hance residence, finds a lot of comfort in cooking.
For Hance, cooking has represented more than just feeding the family. It has served as therapy for her as her family has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I learned everything I know about cooking from my mom,” she explains. “I especially made it my mission to continue learning and cooking for everyone after she passed in 2018. That is what she was known for and we have stacks and stacks of her recipes still, probably hundreds at this point.”
She flips through a giant white binder of everything from fish to baked goods.
A classic go-to for Saturday night dinner?
Chicken Francaise, pasta and garlic bread.
“We’ve been stuck at home. We’ve eaten every meal together for the last couple months. Through the good days and the bad, the kitchen is where we spend most of our time. It’s given me something to do. I put a lot of my love into the recipes,” Hance says.
During the first week of quarantine in March 2020, the Hance family lost two family members within one week.
In the middle of the Hance family’s kitchen island stands framed photos of those loved ones.
A grandmother, brother and dad.
“My mom was everything for the family. She taught us how important things like a meal together was and we all ate together every Sunday. Losing my brother and dad in the same week when this pandemic started was yet again another blow we had to deal with. I still am trying to comprehend it,” she shares.
Even though the dining room table has less chairs occupied during Sunday dinners, the love of the household still remains strong.
As Hance takes her chicken francaise out of the oven, her gentle demeanor can be felt and feels like the secret ingredient that brings the meal to life.
“Life doesn’t stop even though tragedy makes it hard to go on. We still have to come together and what better time than family dinner to be there for one another?” Hance smiles.
The family can still be found sharing a laugh and reminiscing on memories no matter what is thrown at them.
Disclosure: Special thanks to Raquel Hance for featuring in my article. Raquel Hance is the stepmother to Devin Hance, the author of this article.
A glambot is a high-speed camera that captures flawless slow-motion footage at one-thousand frames per second. Hollywood’s most popular celebrities can be seen posting footage from their glambot experience all over the internet.
“When I saw it, I really wanted to recreate my own! The slow-motion footage of beautiful celebrities is so fun to watch. You can do endless poses,” says 13-year-old Danica Hance.
And that is exactly what eight grader Danica Hance set out to do.
“We are in month two of quarantine, so why not try to figure out how to create my own version for free,” Hance explains.
With a pointe shoe from her dance studio in hand and a long elastic stretching band, Danica began brainstorming how to put this DIY project together. It didn’t take long until she stumbled upon the perfect place to test out her experiment: The attic door.
“It was a perfect place because I knew I wanted to have this contraption hanging from the ceiling somehow. Plus, this hallway the attic is in has a very red-carpet type of vibe. Long and narrow, all we need is a real red carpet,” she exclaims.
Danica’s camera of choice in this venture was her iPhone X, which only shoots two-hundred and forty frames per second vs. the glambot’s one thousand, but the outcome was just as fun as any teenager would hope for.
“I definitely have plenty of bloopers to laugh at but why not create this? It will give anyone a good laugh and fun DIY thing to create around the house,” Hance says.
She is sure to warn others however that testing out this DIY project could result in some cracked screens if you’re not careful.
“I’m glad I have an Otter Box case, otherwise, my phone would most likely have some damage from some failed attempts,” she explains.
If you have some free time with the family or some friends, a glambot isn’t a bad way to share some laughs all while wearing your favorite outfits.
Disclosure: Special thanks to my sister, Danica Hance, for being open to letting me cover her for this DIY story.
In 2014, Apple unveiled the very first Apple Watch. A device that was once only a figment of the imagination and featured in comic books like “Dick Tracy” in the 1940s.
80-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez imagined such a device in his wildest dreams when he was a kid growing up in the 40s.
“Dick Tracy was a detective fighting off bad guys and he had the capability to take calls on his radio wristwatch. I never imagined that these gadgets would actually be real,” laughs Rodriquez.
Within 50-70 years past the creation of comics like Dick Tracy or TV shows like Star Trek, many of the technology or concepts shown have come to fruition.
“I’ve been shocked with the things I see now that then seemed so futuristic. You would see things like flat screen TV’s, cell phones and more in Star Trek and now look. No one even bats an eye because that is technology that has become so normal and there is still more to come,” Rodriguez explains.
When it comes to predictions for the future, time travel is at the top of Rodriguez’s list. You can hear the fascination in his voice as he recounts specific episodes from Star Trek in which characters like Spock and Captain Kirk traverse through different periods of time.
But the question is, just when would time-travel be possible?
“I would say in at least 50 years, it could even be sooner than I am predicting but I won’t be around to see it. Einstein, one of the greatest, spoke about it being possible,” Rodriguez says.
Other topics Rodriguez touches on when it comes to the future of planet earth include cloning humans, space exploration and artificial intelligence.
In a world filled with so much devastation amid COVID-19 news, Rodriguez is an interesting reminder that there are so many possibilities in our future to wrap our minds around.
When asked to pick one thing he would invent for the future of planet earth in the next 100 years, Rodriguez is quick to come up with his answer.
“It’s simple. My mind goes back to what’s going on with earth now and I would create a magical cure for ailments. I’d cure cancer and other ailments immediately. This is something that will be possible but again, it’s just going to come past my lifetime.”
Full Disclosure: This article is about a relative, My grandfather. Thanks to him for being open to featuring in my podcast episode!
David Hance points ten feet in front of him with a big smile on his face. “That is one of the biggest boom trucks in the country,” he exclaims.
Hance, president and CEO of New York Dump Trucks Inc., is not shy when it comes to showing off his fleet of trucks.
He is also not shy about the branding of his trucking company, which has one main theme: Neon orange everything.
Mega Boom, as it’s called, has giant neon orange tire rims that glisten in the sun. Throughout New York City and Long Island, where his fleet is based, the neon orange has become easily identifiable amongst anyone who walks or drives by it.
“We’re on call 24/7, 365 days a year. We’re a subcontractor of NYC department of environmental protection services. Any time a water mane breaks, and you see water gushing out of the street, the city hires a company to respond to that quickly within three hours to fix it. We’re one of those companies.”
Up until the end of March, Hance’s business was busy attending to tons of construction jobs around NYC and surrounding areas. Jobs like, supplementing the building of skyscrapers, road repairs, and city construction all fall into the wheelhouse of what Hance’s company can do.
“The governor allowed all construction to proceed. But now that things have become more serious, all but the most essential construction is shut down. That eliminated 2/3 of our business but we remain on-call for the emergency water infrastructure jobs.”
If a water pipe broke somewhere in the five boroughs, Hance provides the trucks and equipment that is needed to attend to the dilemma.
“What typically happens is, I get a text from the NYC department of environmental protection. They are the overseers of all the water infrastructure in NYC.”
He focuses on one important point. “We take it for granted when we turn on our tap, we get clean fresh water. NYC is known for having some of the best water in the world. For that to happen, so much work has to be done. Maintaining the thousands of miles of piping that and related infrastructure takes a lot of effort. Hundreds and hundreds of people work on that.”
Hance will typically get a call to respond to a certain location and has a maximum of about three hours to get to the job.
“It’s important that we respond as quickly as possible because depending on the case, hundreds of people could be without water. If water is shut off for even 8 hours, you see just how precious a commodity water really is.”
The dump trucks can be used to bring anything from emergency road plates to cover the road until it can be fixed, lighting at night so you can light up the area safely, wood sheeting and more.
The caterpillar digging machines also have to be towed to the job sites and his trucks are capable of lugging those where they need to be as well.
David Hance is no stranger to hard work. His earliest memories involve him working as young as ten years old.
“I grew up in Long Island with five other siblings. Even with our parents working full time, we grew up poor. Working was just engraved in us,” Hance recounts.
His first few jobs happened to be in the auto industry. He recalls memories of washing windshields and observing auto mechanics in action.
Fast forward 40 years and it’s no surprise that Hance has his hand in the trucking industry.
“Our goal one day is to become a general contractor where we can be the one winning bids and doing the job with our own resources. It takes a lot of money and a lot of insurance. We hope to be there in another two to three years.”
With 40 trucks running in total, Hance has no shortage of tasks to get done on a weekly basis.
The construction business can present new challenges each week. When asked how Hance stays on top of it all he is filled with advice.
“If you don’t have the expertise, you might want to consider bringing in someone who does have the expertise. It might save you a lot of money in the long run. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
A typical day for twenty-five-year-old Juwann Jones is that there is no typical day. For the past three years, Jones has served the Soundview community in the South Bronx as a New York City Police Officer.
Officer Jones became a police officer at the young age of twenty-two and describes his role as a true labor of love but surprisingly, becoming an officer was not always a part of his game plan.
“I actually didn’t want to be a police officer believe it or not. I wanted to go into video producing or video editing and my mom forced me to take the exam,” Jones recounts.
The civil service law requires that candidates for most New York City jobs such as police officers, take and pass a competitive civil service exam before they can be hired to become permanent employees.
“I was seventeen when my mom suggested it, they were giving the exam every day at the time.”
It can take up to four to five years to even hear back from such an exam, so Jones took his talents to Buffalo State College, where he majored and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Scott Phillips, a criminal justice professor at SUNY Buffalo State, weighs in on what goes into an education in criminal justice. He explains that an education in criminal justice doesn’t limit or train students into becoming one specific thing.
“I don’t teach how to be a cop. That’s the great thing about a critical thinking education. We have a strong program with many different required courses and diverse electives. Further, we focus on critical thinking,” Professor Phillips explains.
“There are usually no simple answers to an issue and students must assess many different issues or concepts to understand a problem. Students are expected to bring evidence to answer a question.”
It was soon after graduating from SUNY Buffalo when Jones received the news that he was approved to attend the New York City police academy to officially undergo the process to becoming a cop.
The New York police academy is a six-month process. The 24-week mandatory timeline entails consistent physical training, education on policy and procedure and prepping to take on the streets of New York City.
After graduating from the academy, Jones now reports to the 43rd precinct where he works on the anti-crime team.
The main goal is to apprehend wanted individuals as well as find people carrying illegal guns and people committing the seven major crimes.
“The thing about this job is there is so much opportunity to back out and decide if this is for you or not,” Jones explains.
“If you don’t love helping people, you’re going to be miserable.”
When asked about a moment that makes it worth it, his mood and demeanor instantly changed to a genuine focus.
He goes on to share a story about a 15-year old teenage boy who was considering taking his life.
“One of the most rewarding things that has ever happened to me was responding to a fifteen-year-old who said he was going to kill himself.”
After conducting an investigation, Officer Jones arrived at the scene right as the teen boy was prepping to jump off a bridge at a local state park.
He took the time to personally speak with the teen. Before departing, Officer Jones handed the teen a piece of paper with his department cell phone number on it.
“I told him to call me if he was ever in need.”
Six months later, Jones received an unlikely call. It was the same teenage boy.
“I ended up meeting up with him off duty and taking him to the boys and girls club where I play basketball. We played some basketball and talked and fast forward to now. He’s a member of the club, is doing super well and about to graduate high school.”
Jones flashes a smile when he shares the details of watching a teens troubled past turn into a success story.
“Not to sound cheesy, but one of the best parts about the job is helping people. It might sound cliché.”
It’s made very clear after Jones shares his genuine love for the job that helping people is truly what fuels his work. When asked about the biggest things he’s learned in his three years thus far he outlines three main tips.
“The first is, if you’re not comfortable with something, don’t do it.”
Not liking how a job went down? Officer Jones recommends speaking up. It is always a team effort. If a job goes bad, it doesn’t matter if your partner was the one who made a poor choice, it could end up poorly reflecting you by association.
“Secondly, whatever you aspire to be on this job, go for it. Don’t let other people’s opinions or goals make you feel like you shouldn’t go for your goals.”
Jones is adamant about not feeling embarrassed for what you aspire to achieve. Not everyone is going to be a cheerleader for your personal goals, but he suggests you not be distracted by any naysayers.
“And lastly, make the job work for you. Policing is usually only something that you’ll do for 20-25 years. I’ll by 47 when I retire which means I’ll have a lot of life left to live. Let the police department give you the tools you need to take your life to the next step.”
Jones is mindful about life after serving his Bronx community. What hobbies or life moves will be made beyond that time period? It is sound advice to keep those future goals in mind.
“Patience.” says Professor Phillips states when asked what advice he’d offer someone who is in the first few years of their criminal justice career.
“Police, for example, have been described as doing “societies dirty work”. There is an ugly side of existence and if you’ve never experienced it, it can really throw you off. A criminal justice worker can’t fix everything, so do your best and move along. You’ll sleep better,” Professor Phillips explains.
When asked about the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the state, Officer Jones does not shy away from the question.
“I’m fortunate enough to be a police officer through this pandemic. In times of crisis and times of chaos, I still have a job. I still can provide for myself. Working through this time, however, means I am not protected by this virus. I am expected to endure hell or high water.”
When asked about something people might not know about police officers, Jones cracks a smile.
“Honestly, most police officers DON’T want to write traffic tickets.”
As many might assume, a career as a first responder wouldn’t necessarily be described as glamorous.
“Many people don’t like me because of the uniform I wear. They hate everything about me, without knowing anything about me.”
Officer Jones’ mature mindset prevents him from taking it to heart.
“At the end of the day, it’s my job to keep people safe and that’s exactly what I intend on doing.”
Maddy McArn’s grey peacoat presses neatly against her colorful stripped business pants, making her fit the mold of a creative professional effortlessly. She quickly responds to work-related phone calls with her iPhone 11 as she sits in front of a laptop with twelve different tabs spilling into numerous spreadsheets and research. The hustle and bustle of Penn Station does not seem to faze her focus of the call one bit.
If one were to greet Maddy at a bar and ask what her profession was, she might typically respond with a quick summary of, “I work in events.”
For two years as of March 2020, Maddy has worked as an associate producer for MKG, a marketing creative agency headquartered out of New York City. Diving deeper into the world of creative agencies, it is far more than just that one liner explanation.
“Think of my job as someone who is in advertising but instead of my method of advertising being like a brand purchasing a billboard or purchasing an ad in a magazine, my job is to use an event as a method of advertising” McArn explains.
“The company looking to advertise is instead paying MKG to put money toward an event which will achieve the same effect but by spending money on an event, they can connect with their consumer through a physical touch point.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this industry of work will grow 8% from 2018-2028 which is faster than average and it is clear to see why once McArn unravels the details of her role at the company.
When asked about examples of events MKG puts on, McArn had no shortage of successful examples. One of which includes an interactive instillation entitled “Social Soul” created for Delta Airlines.
“Once we have won a client, I get assigned to produce the event so basically I’m telling them, “Okay you’ve given us this much money for your vision, now I’m going to make a timeline for us so now we can know when you’re going to see this come to life” McArn says.
She goes on to explain it is her job to handle every logistical responsibility and think of every possible question that could be asked and see it through until the event is completed.
“So, I’m not the one actually designing or measuring out the spaces, but more so overseeing the teams and making sure everything is executed on time. I’m making sure the designers understand the client’s needs and vice versa.”
Within the timeline of a project, Maddy is accounting for every dollar that will be spent, finalizing project details, and keeping all parties in check with timing.
Budgets for brand events can range from $100,000 to $400,000 on a case by case basis.
“The way to have it not be overwhelming is you have key buckets. What is falling on my plate? What is MKG managing? Are we managing the venue or does our client already have that? Are we wrangling talent for a certain event? Or does the client already have a relationship there?” McArn explains. From there it makes it easier for her to assess quotes and lock in prices.
When it comes to Maddy’s job, she outlines why it’s no surprise it has brought her to the heart of NYC.
“This role is primarily in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Metropolitan areas. The need for someone that does is primarily here because it is here that has big corporations. There is money to be spent in these cities.”
A twinkle in Maddy’s eye could be seen when diving into the thrill behind NYC.
“New York City has enough of a cultural hub to bring many things to life. Whatever you need, it’s got it!” she exclaims. There is no shortage of what the big city can provide whether it’s venues, a certain cuisine or vibe and Maddy McArn is well fit to bring any vision to life.