Words by Paige Townley
Photo provided by Blueprint 58
The current crisis with COVID-19 doesn’t make staying connected to our friends, family, and community easy. But the crowd size limitations and social distancing rules don’t have to mean complete self-isolation. Rebecca Stanley, co-founder of Blueprint 58, a nonprofit in Atlanta, shares her tips on how they are keeping their community connected amidst the difficulties of the pandemic.
There’s no reason to let the conversations end when you can go virtual. Whether it’s Facetime, Zoom, or another video chat format, pick one and make the most of it. Blueprint 58 hasn’t let their mentor/student relationships end just because of social distancing, says Rebecca. The organization has made sure students have computers and internet access so that they can still interact as much as possible with mentors. “It’s obviously not the ideal scenario, but it’s letting them connect, and that’s what’s most important,” she says.
Schedule Group E-Gatherings.
Virtual teleconferences aren’t just for mentors and students. Blueprint 58 has gotten the entire community in on the calls by creating group Zoom call times as well. “Communication right now is so important to keep communities together,” Rebecca says, “and group calls are a great option to keep everyone feeling connected and reminded that we’re all in this together.”
Create a Communication Hub.
With in-person communication being so difficult right now, the organization is using its website as a check-in spot for those in their community to make them aware of potential needs they have. Blueprint 58 has created a portal on its site for families and neighbors to submit needs and requests, such as grocery pick up because they are sick or too susceptible to risk going to the grocery store. “People can also log on there to let us know they’d like to help, whether it’s covering the cost of someone’s groceries or simply praying for members of the community,” Rebecca adds.
Keep Some Kind of Normalcy.
While as adults it’s easy to understand the reasons behind the current social distancing requirements, it’s not always as easy for children. That’s why Rachel feels it’s as important as ever to try to keep as much normalcy in their lives as possible. In their community, Blueprint 58 has made the attempt to do so when possible. For example, since the community’s flag football season had to be cancelled, Adam set up an online tournament. While the high school seniors can’t have their typical senior photos made at school this spring, Rebecca found a way to safely offer seniors an opportunity to have photos made on their front porch. “We know it’s not the same, but it’s still something,” Rebecca says.
Get the Little Ones Involved.
We all may be stuck at home and looking for ways to keep the kiddos entertained, and for Rebecca, there’s no better way to fill their time than by finding ways they can safely help their community. Rebecca and Adam’s kids have been making cards for friends in the community and even help delivering them to neighbors. “Adam and I do a lot of walking around the block with our kids, talking (from a safe distance) to people on their front porches,” Rebecca says. “The kids have loved being part of that and helping drop off snacks and the handmade cards.”