We May Be Apart, But We Are Not Alone

After four consecutive episodes of “Outer Banks”, you need a break, so you turn off the tv and begin scrolling through your phone… for another 45 minutes; you realize you haven’t moved off the couch since the sun came up, so you stretch your legs, and decide to take the dog for a walk around the block. When you return home, you think about what you’re going to make for dinner.

Sound familiar? This is #quarantinelife at it’s finest, and many people are having this “Groundhog Day” experience daily for a variety of reasons; you may have lost your job, you don’t have family in the area, and it’s unsafe to casually socialize in normal places like the gym, restauants/bars, and shopping centers.

Humans are meant to interact with other humans. When we feel fear, like the type of fear caused by a global pandemic, our body releases cortisol, a hormone that controls our “fight or flight” response. In small doses, cortisol plays an important role, but with continued release, it can cause anxiety, depression, heart disease, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. What combats these responses? Our happy homones! Something as simple as laughing with a friend, helps our body release dopamine and endorphins, and helps us relax. However, due to social distancing protocols, we are limiting our opportunity to release those happy hormones; isolation is necessary for public health, but it is not good for our mental health, especially for those that are in quarantine alone.

Cue Cape Fear Connects!

A core value of WNY People Development is community give back; “People Development with Purpose” isn’t just our motto, it’s our promise. When the world shut down, public and private organizations stepped up to fill needs around the world; free virtual concerts to provide entertainment, food delivery to fill bellies, complimentary data to surf the web, medical supplies for those on the front lines. All are vital needs, but the one thing we were missing, the thing we crave, is face-to-face interaction.

If you are not working, you don’t have daily team meetings on Zoom; if you live alone, or are retired, your routine may include waving to neighbors on a walk, but not actually stopping to chat; or, you may be surrounded by the same three family members you’ve been quarantined with for the past 6 weeks, and desperately want to talk to someone other than them. Casual conversation has died due to COVID-19, and I wanted to bring it back as a gift to our community.

WNY People Development has partnered with Choice Connections, a senior housing concierge service, to create Cape Fear Connects. The process is simple; complete an online registration form with basic communication preferences, and program organizers will partner two or three strangers for casual conversation at a designated time on the Zoom platform (participants must have access to a camera enabled computer, tablet, or cell phone). Fun and simple conversation starters will be provided to the group to break the ice, and help strangers become friendly acquaintances over the course of a 30 minute conversation. This service is free, and is meant to help us overcome isolation, and build new community bonds during this time of social distancing.

If you, or someone you know would be interested in taking advantage of this service, please cut and paste the link below into your browser, and complete the registration form. Remember, we may be apart, but we are not alone!

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