MONTVILLE, NJ – When two Montville Township High School graduates put their heads together – figuratively! – to try to help out Montville but stay safe while doing so during the COVID-19 crisis, they turned to their online talents. Lorrin Stone and Reza Wang-Lotfi have developed a website called “What’s Open Montville” to act as a hub for restaurants to use as their “open” sign in these tough times.
Stone, currently a student at Brandeis University, and Wang-Lotfi, a software engineer at Facebook, met through the forensics (speech and debate) team at the high school. Home from college because of the closures in the Coronavirus crisis, Stone told TAPinto Montville that he wanted to get involved, but he didn’t want to be outside and potentially expose himself to the virus.
“I wanted to help out but I had to stop riding with the Montville Township Volunteer Ambulance Squad,” he said. “So I started to think about online solutions. My mother had been checking Montville Moms on Facebook for restaurants that were open but there was no single place to know what was open, and businesses are not updating their websites or Facebook pages. I essentially wanted to make a place where families and businesses could click and know that information.”
Stone shared his idea with Wang-Lotfi after obtaining a domain name; Wang-Lotfi spent upwards of 12 hours inputting the spreadsheet that TAPinto Montville, Carol DaCosta, and the Towaco Civic Association had assembled. The list is divided into categories like American, Chinese, alcohol and desserts, and includes restaurants’ logos.
“It was a good bit of work,” Wang-Lotfi said.
Soon, the pair hopes to expand their website to include ways to get involved and help out community organizations, like the First Aid Squad – which Wang-Lotfi also volunteered with – such as by highlighting donation items that are needed. The pair is also friends with Parth Agrawal and Daniel Lee, who went to NJIT with Wang-Lotfi, and have started The CommonHealthProject.com, a group that hopes to ignite groups of volunteers who will assemble face shields in their homes which will then be safely collected and donated to healthcare workers.
In the meantime, WhatsOpenMontville.site is the site to consult before going out.
If your restaurant or business is not currently on the website, contact Stone and Wang-Lotfi at email@example.com.
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