By Carol Levy
2020: The Silver Lining in Our Golden Years
Although none of us would have chosen to live through a pandemic, stay home, wear a mask when it’s not Halloween, or communicate primarily through electronic gadgets, on a macro level, we can all identify some silver linings while living in the time of COVID.
The importance of family took a front seat; old friendships were renewed; Mt. Everest is visible from Kathmandu; we gained appreciation for workers not previously acknowledged; we have more time to be outdoors, pursue hobbies and perhaps clean out the garage; and we have witnessed the strength of the human spirit and inspiring acts of compassion.
Last week, Village in the Village (ViV) celebrated its sixth anniversary with a membership appreciation “party” via Zoom. The theme was “2020: The Silver Lining in our Golden Years.” Of course, being a party, there was a good dose of entertainment, games and prizes. Moreover, it was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our members, thank our volunteers, take a look back at the myriad challenges the organization overcame this year and examine how ViV can continue be a vital part of our community.
But what is the silver lining for ViV, the organization that helps keep Corrales seniors in their home while remaining socially connected to the community? After all, 2020 was not a typical year for our members, volunteers or any non-profit.
By April, all the activities we provide to fulfill our mission were no longer possible. Out were ready rides to appointments, help with chores, in-home visits, coffees, concerts, theatre outings, happy hours, luncheons, parties and educational activities. In was fear of a contagious and deadly virus, concern about the lack of toilet paper, the potential for isolation and loneliness, uncertainty about how to serve our members while keeping them and our volunteers safe, and questions about how and if our organization could survive.
Fortunately, for Village in the Village, the year of the pandemic brought us many silver linings. We celebrated that in 2020, we:
• Got smarter. Many of us learned a lot by attending ViV’s technology trainings. ViV offered classes in technology basics, web searches and online shopping.
• Stayed together even when apart. Several of our social activities, such as weekly coffees and educational events continued virtually.
• Tried something new. Our new virtual book and movie clubs were very popular and offered new ways to get to know each other and share different points of view.
• Found a way. By establishing safety protocols, we provided our members about 370 services such as rides to medical appointments and telephone companionship visits.
• Shared the positive. In our weekly Photo Friday email, we published photos taken by our members of their walks, travels, hobbies or backyard adventures. Who could resist smiling at photos of wildlife, beautifully painted rocks, furry companions and colorful sunsets?
• Made new friends. When in-home visits became phone calls, we paired members and volunteers for regular buddy checks and conversation. What began as routine contacts developed into deep friendships.
• Rolled out the welcome mat. Despite this year’s challenges, we welcomed 21 new members!
• Helped ourselves by helping others. We enjoyed the many benefits of volunteering which included boosting well-being, combating depression, and a developed sense of joy.
• Celebrated our heroes. Besides honoring our wonderful volunteers at our Member Appreciation Party, we surprised them with a contactless delivery of thank you balloons and a goodie bag.
• Offered a challenge. As we look toward the coming year, we challenged our members to be a silver lining for ViV by joining a club or activity, offering program suggestions, teaching, volunteering, telling others about ViV and/or making a financial contribution.
• Provided peace of mind. Whether we are delivering toilet paper, sanitizer and masks; helping get groceries, teaching how to Zoom with the grandkids, or socializing virtually, our members know that ViV is there for them and we really are “in this together” during our golden years.
This year demonstrated how ViV’s silver lining emanates from within. We are grateful to our members for their courage, flexibility, resilience and support during a year defined by uncertainty. Carol Levy is secretary of Village in the Village. If you would like to be a silver lining, or know a friend, family member or neighbor who would benefit from ViV, contact ViV at 274-2606 or visit our website at http://www.villageinthevillage.org.