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Columns

November Batavia Park District Dish: Virtual programs fill the void

This pandemic has undoubtedly transformed an already heavily virtual world into a precisely all-virtual world.

Students have made extreme changes to their school days. Businesses have transitioned into virtual meetings to conduct business. At the Batavia Park District, new virtual recreation programs have taken priority. Many have made a smooth transition to this virtual world, but what about our beloved seniors? How are they coping with the enforcement of a virtual world to ensure safety but maintain socialization?

With only three months under my belt and still feeling fairly new to the park district, I attended a Zoom meeting for the Batavia Senior Citizens Club for observation purposes. As a fly on the wall, I was impressed to say the least. It touched my heart to witness this group adapting to this new world and watch their smiling faces checking in with one another and talking club business.

Although they’d rather meet in person, these individuals took the current circumstances and have made the best of it. It made me have a deeper appreciation for what this pandemic has done to them, our beloved seniors. With that, I wanted to know more, so I went right to the source.

“Instead of sitting at home alone, the most vulnerable gather on Zoom for monthly meetings and weekly coffee clubs. With the guidance and planning of Robin Soderquist (recreation supervisor), we have learned how to Zoom. With this media, many Batavia seniors have added to their technology skills, shared helpful tips for saving money, learned of voting options and shared ideas of things to do while staying home. To reach out to members, we have a calling tree and take turns calling ten members weekly, making sure the member is faring well during the pandemic and advise them of the upcoming planned activities. As we continue to isolate with the surge of COVID-19, we are blessed to be able to keep in touch with friends through the BPD,” said Stephanie Novack, BSCC member.

“The pandemic has helped me focus on what I can do to stay in touch with BSCC members. Through Zoom meetings, I have developed new and enhanced friendships. In fact, I feel more connected to my fellow members than before the pandemic,” said Dorothy Zylkowski, BSCC member.

“I'm grateful for Zoom meetings, drive-by birthdays, outdoor Bingo and Bunco, drop-by visits from Robin and Glad (BSCC president) with their smiling faces that we can see in their eyes and hear their happy voices under their masks. These visits with beautiful flowers from their gardens and some sweets are extra special. Just knowing we're only a phone call away keeps up our spirits,” said Marge Siuda, BSCC member.

“Our BSCC is awesome and all-inspiring! We stay in touch with each other and make sure every member is contacted by text, email or phone call monthly. “Thinking of you” cards are sent, and “care” packages were delivered to each member’s home not once but twice during this scary time. Our Zoom coffee meetings are always a welcome addition to our week. I am very fortunate and proud to be part of this wonderful organization,” said Mary Louise Rosanova, BSCC secretary.

“The BSCC should be an example for other senior organizations throughout the world. This most valuable organization has not only shown its members kindness and cheer but also support when necessary,” said Willie Etta Wright, BSCC member.

“We were forced to change our thinking, our interactions and our everyday routines. For most of us born in the 1920s and 30s, we were oblivious to these new gadgets and techniques that the younger folks were involved with. But we came up with some ideas of our own and decided that, since we couldn’t get all of us together like before, we would find a way to connect with each other. I’ll admit that these new activities can’t replace the way things used to be, but we are a pretty resilient bunch of seniors and determined to get through this challenge safely. We have had time to get to know our fellow members better, and I believe we can say that we are better citizens for this opportunity,” said Glad Cook, BSCC president.

For more for information about BSCC, please email robins@bataviaparks.org.

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