One of the many things that has gotten me through the last six months is a group text with six friends, who incidentally all live in the neighborhood. We were initially brought together by our kids, despite the fact that many of our kids are now spread throughout the country, the six of us remain close, geographically here in the neighborhood, but also emotionally as friends. Our group texts are full of funny pictures, educational pieces about the pandemic, jokes for and about each other, emojis, and more. I recently wrote to them that “our group chat helps me get through the day some days. Everyone is so smart and loving. We’re very different, but we make each other better people.” In short, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for them as my informal “Village.”
My hope is that each of you have some form of a group to get you through these trying times. Our formal Village is here for you and I hope that you’ll take advantage of our offerings, including the many and varied programs outlined below, the phone “check-in callers,” the services of our case manager for short-term issues, and friends that you’ve made here, be they other members, volunteers, or staff! As a formal organization, however, some things need to be addressed differently than if we were just a group of informal friends.
First, we want to offer fun and/or informative programs. We’ve changed some things this coming month, such as discontinuing our Gratitude Circle since Around Town DC also has one, and moving our Creative Writing Group to every other Wednesday at 4. We’re also exploring other to-be-kept secret surprises! I’d like to announce the formation of a program advisory group, comprised of members and volunteers (who attend village events), to help me and Claire consider further changes to our programs. So, if you’d like to be on this advisory group, please send me anemailor give us a call at 202-615-5853. The group will meet by phone/Zoom weekly for approximately 5 or 6 weeks.
Second, in an effort to minimize risk to both members and volunteers, we are taking members to needed, non-COVID medical appointments, but are requiring the following conditions: 1) only the member and the volunteer driver are in the car (that is, no other passengers); 2) the member must sit in the back of the car on the passenger’s side; 3) the windows must remain open, as much as is feasible if raining) to increase air flow; and 4) the volunteer driver and member must both be wearing masks at all times, including while entering and exiting the vehicle. These guidelines were established by our Reopen Committee comprised of members of our Board of Directors. We ask that everyone, member and volunteer, follow these rules.
Third, I’d like to address the issue of privacy. I understand that we all care for one another and it’s inevitable that people want to reach out and discuss other members’ needs, especially in a time of crisis. I’d like everyone to be reminded that Claire nor I, as staff, can discuss other members with you. Frequently, we’ll get a well-meaning call asking about someone that they heard was sick. Due to privacy issues, we cannot discuss the member with you. It’s awkward for us too, but we have to protect everyone’s privacy. We can say, “Perhaps you could give them a call.” To that end, we will be looking into a revised membership directory which would provide you with their contact information. For those wishing more privacy, we will make sure that there is a means of opting out of including your name and contact information, if you wish.
We’re always trying to make your experience with the Village the best it possibly can be. Providing these reminders and asking for your input as part of a program advisory group are addressing ways that we might improve. As always, I hope that you have a great weekend and look forward to seeing you at one of our many programs scheduled for September! Just like my informal group of friends with whom I text, I’m so very grateful for this formal village. You too are my friends and it is absolutely my pleasure to serve as your executive director, and to do my small part to make sure that you too feel the love and support from this great organization.