This is the first of a two-part report from Woodbury Thrives Social Connectedness Action Team Co-leader Dana Boyle

When neighborhoods and housing complexes are originally established, many of the initial residents naturally form close connections with their neighbors. As communities grow and change, though, people tend to lose touch with neighbors, and many of us eventually find the focus turned to our own properties, professions and family lives. 

Enter COVID-19 and this opportunity to change patterns and make new connections or reestablish old ones, as we stroll the sidewalks, streets and nearby trails. We have heard stories throughout Woodbury of people, who are abiding by important social distancing rules, but finding ways to learn each other’s names, find out where everyone grew up, hear about interests and hobbies, and naturally seek commonalities. 

One such pod of neighbors began coming outside informally at 5:00 p.m. each night, weather permitting, to check in and catch up with one another. Many did not know each other, even though they’d lived in close proximity for years and years. At these gatherings, family members stay close, while everyone else leaves a gap of 6’ or more. “At first, it took daily texts, to remind and encourage attendance. It was also a small effort to gather contact information for everyone,” shared the organizer. “But after a few weeks, it became a habit. Together we have laughed, shared recipes, discussed landscape and gardening plans, toasted a neighbor on his birthday and cheered en masse for a little girl in the cul de sacwho took her first bicycle ride with no training wheels. We have offered to be there if anyone needs anything and we have made new friendships that will last well beyond our days of sheltering-in-place.” 

Other neighbor groups are finding ways to connect at different times and in diverse ways. Even the simple idea of going to the end of your driveway or apartment door and waving, at a designated time, counts. Why? Because it offers a chance to visually check in with those living around you, in case someone needs assistance. It also gives you and those around you a stronger sense of belonging to something bigger than oneself – and humans benefit from that, no matter whether we are introverts or extroverts.

Look for the second part of this report in the next issue of the Woodbury Thrives e-newsletter.

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