After a year in the COVID-19 pandemic, many things about the way we live have likely changed for good. We asked community members what change(s) they plan to carry into a post-pandemic world. Here …
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After a year in the COVID-19 pandemic, many things about the way we live have likely changed for good. We asked community members what change(s) they plan to carry into a post-pandemic world. Here are some of their responses.
Despite everyone’s exuberance to get back to in-person gatherings, I’m hoping that virtual platforms will continue to be utilized to diversify the voices at the table, increase participation, and frankly, save time! They have become an incredible tool to allow people far and wide to add varying perspectives to local discussions.
-- April Starling, Chatham Arts Council
"The biggest change I will carry forward is personal. My wife and I have three grown children, all married that live in three different states. We’ve started monthly Zoom calls to check in and say hello. It is allowing us to stay more connected as a family despite the social distancing and distance of miles.
-- Danny Berrier, pastor Chatham United Methodist Church
The Pandemic has caused me to slow down, and given me space to appreciate time more — I hope permanently! I intend to keep enjoying small outdoor gatherings of friends on my porch. In my work world, we’ve had so many opportunities to re-examine what we do and how we do it, and to make changes to improve service and efficiency. I am committed to keeping these changes.
-- Resident Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour, judicial district 15B
The pandemic emphasized existing challenges like access to affordable health care and rural high speed internet that we must double down to fix. Also, I’ve been forced to become comfortable with more video conferencing and fewer in-person meetings, but that will open up new and better ways to communicate with people more frequently all across the state. And on a personal note, I’ve become an even greater fan of early morning, long walks that help me reflect and focus.
-- Gov. Roy Cooper
There will be some positives post-COVID. People will likely use technology more for meetings or working from home. A new standard for cleaning and sanitation will be on some people’s minds, at least for several years. There will continue to be more deliveries to our homes from online purchases, which can pose a risk to some of our locally-owned businesses.
I will personally hold on to the need for personal relationships, especially gestures such as a smile, handshake or human contact. It is important to remember to have compassion for those who have lost loved ones, lost their jobs or dealt with isolation and depression during this pandemic. Due to the nature of our jobs, our staff members recognize that not everyone has dealt with COVID the same way. A lot of people are still struggling, and while a vaccine is very important, it will not immediately fix the post-COVID situation.
-- Mike Roberson, Chatham County sheriff
Plan to continue staying in frequent contact with family and friends. Will continue enjoying my outside landscaping and walks along the Haw River. Will likely keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my vehicle.
-- Dennis Streets, executive director Chatham Council on Aging
COVID-19 certainly presented its share of challenges, but before the pandemic I was often guilty of saving the ‘good’ stuff for later, be it the weekend, vacation, a holiday, whatever. Post-pandemic I plan to continue to keep all the good things in my life in constant rotation and regular use. The good china, the good wine, the special outfit will all come out on average Tuesdays when it’s grilled cheese for lunch. Our time here is so short and so unpredictable and it took a pandemic to illustrate just how fragile we are and how quickly it can all change. I don’t intend to forget that any time soon.
-- Karen Howard, Chatham County Commissioner
I have never been content at home alone, yet now I revel in it. Content, left with only my thoughts, choosing carefully when and how I connect with the world outside. It’s taken me a full year to get to this place, done completely out of necessity. And yet, it now feels like a gift. A gift of truly knowing me and a gift of peace.
-- Linda Smith, retired professional development specialist at UNC
During the pandemic, my wife and I started having dance parties after supper with our three young children. Musical tastes might change, but I hope our kids will continue to boogie with me until they are teenagers. The church I serve as pastor has begun a Sunday afternoon prayer meeting with a historically Black church. We want these relationships to grow and deepen. Finally, I have also started the habit of eating a piece or two of chocolate after lunch — a little sweetness every day.
-- Andrew Troutman, pastor at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church
My family has really embraced the Zoom Celebrations. We were able to honor my Aunt’s 88th Birthday with relatives in California, Texas, Illinois, Maryland and North Carolina. We often talked on the phone but we had not seen each other since the ‘80s.
During the Holidays, our celebrations included the virtual DJ, games, dancing and a virtual photo booth. We plan to keep this ‘new tradition.’
At school, I hope the computer devices remain with the students and that CCS will provide more hotspots.
-- Saundra Gardner, Communities In Schools board member
Working at home was not a difficult shift for us because my husband and I both telecommuted with Nortel Networks in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, and a couple of other positions since. Our biggest adjustment was the shift of my husband to our primary shopper, and his lack of business travel. Man, I miss putzing around the grocery store and Target. Once we get our vaccinations, I look forward to returning to the creative writing classes I teach for Central Carolina Community College, meeting friends for dinner and a drink, visiting my family in other states and adventuring in far-off lands. I do think we’ll carry on the practice of face masks in public for the foreseeable future, though, which I find neither insulting nor daunting.
-- Dolly R. Sickles, local author
Telehealth and the ability to provide counseling services to those who are unable to leave home or a vulnerable population. Occasionally, people with depression don’t feel like leaving home. Telehealth will allow me to serve clients without the need of leaving the comfort of their home.
Wearing a mask in the winter because it keeps my face warm plus germ protection. Win-win!
I will carry forward an improved self-awareness of what I am touching and being more conscious of the distance of other people.
Finally, a deeper form of resilience. An unshakable belief that we as people are resilient — we will figure it out and overcome our challenges.
-- Ashleigh Glover, Chatham Counseling & Wellness
Life is a pocket full of two-sided coins, ones of mine that got a good buffing in 2020 include:
1. It’s hard to recognize fair-weather friends — enjoy manic moments;
2. Isn’t that your friend in the chipper? See #1 with red, white and
3. Ignorance is bliss — let’s all act sweet.
-- Craig Witter, Pittsboro Youth Theater
The pandemic virus has allowed me to think about how precious relationships are and to make time and help others along the way. COVID-19 slowed me down where I read my Bible daily and that has taught me to forgive, not to forget but to focus on the present and the future.
-- Mary Nettles, president Chatham Community NAACP and Community Remembrance Coalition-Chatham
I began walking my neighborhood two miles per day in the early evening during the pandemic and I will continue to do so. The daily walk has improved my physical health and it brings me a few minutes of quiet and mental clarity each day.
-- Daniel K. Simmons, CEO Boys & Girls Club of Central Carolina
My adopted sequester practice has become one of reaching out to people I have known in the past but with whom I have not been in touch. Each renewed conversation by email or phone begins with sharing the good memories, the attributes which were admired, why the relationship mattered, and thanking them for touching my life in a positive way — keeping the focus on them, not me. Many pleasant conversations resulted and relationships renewed — even if for a few hours or days. It is sufficient. And we both could smile and celebrate the good things that life brings. The initiative is now adopted as a continuing habit.
-- Lowell Hoffman
What changes have impacted my life as a pastor at Mays Chapel Baptist Church (Bear Creek) and adjunct professor finishing his Ph.D. in biblical studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary? For one, we have embraced having a more dynamic and flexible approach to ministry. We have been gathering together outside for ‘drive-in’ services since the beginning of the pandemic last March. This has its challenges (especially in extreme temperatures), but also many blessings as we safely reach many who otherwise would not feel comfortable attending in-building services.
Second, we do not take fellowship for granted. We must be wise as serpents but harmless as doves and have found many creative ways to encourage and serve our shut-ins and those living alone.
Lastly, the pandemic has opened so many new doors to serve our community and beyond through partnerships with the Deep River Park Assoc., Union Taylors Community Action Center, and the Men’s/Women’s Shelter in Sanford. We also set up a ‘blessings box’ at Mays Chapel to serve those in need with diapers, canned foods and other non-perishable essentials.
-- Greg Lamb, pastor Mays Chapel Baptist Church
I will be able to easily go to gatherings on Zoom that would be very difficult, distant, expensive in both time, energy and money to attend in person.
We in Rotary will be able to invite guest speakers on Zoom who would not possibly be able to make the trip in person. See above in reverse.
I expect we will continue to eat at home more and restaurant less than we did BC.
A little bit more hermit peace and quiet than BC.
But I surely hope to be back in Kenan Stadium for football games and the Dean Dome for basketball.
-- Dr. John Dykers
I want to keep taking time to explore my passions. Performing virtual plays, writing a newspaper column and reading a book every week are just a few that come to mind. I also want to carry over the empathy and compassion that many of us felt at the onset of the pandemic.
-- Rachel Horowitz, Chatham County Schools teacher
I think my concept of ‘personal space’ and friendly displays of affection — a hug, handshake or kiss on the cheek when greeting close friends — is gone forever.
-- Mayme Boyd, co-chair Communities In Schools board of directors
I’ve really enjoyed engaging with far-flung family, friends, colleagues and work associates using video conferencing. We had it before the pandemic, but it wasn’t so widely used. It’s helped me feel more connected, and enabled me to learn more, faster. I hope we can continue using tools like Zoom, post pandemic. And I hope we finally address the digital divide, so that many more people are able to have access.
-- John Bonitz, Pittsboro commissioner
At the meadery, we started doing flights on homemade flight boards in lieu of face-to-face tastings. We plan to keep those even after we go back to doing tastings. We also finally got the fire pit going outside and everyone’s loved that!
-- Becky Starr, Starrlight Mead
I’ve challenged myself to learn something new every day. Something that is outside of my own domain of knowledge. It started as a way for me to take my mind off of the unknown and the anxiety generated by the pandemic, and ended up being a beautiful way to start my morning.
-- Lisa Fedele, The Alliance
I am certainly looking forward to a post pandemic world and hope we can achieve that scenario very soon. I have been very fortunate to have already been given my second vaccine dose, but still I plan to continue mask wearing when I’m out in public. I think this continues to set a good example for those who have not received a vaccine so that they can see that mask wearing is still one of the most important ways to stop the spread. And of course, continue with hand washing and social distancing when you are around people you do not know. As my mother always said, ‘Better safe, than sorry.’
-- Jane J. Wrenn, The Salvation Army Chatham County
My husband and I have gotten closer during the pandemic. Slowing down and being together more, we’ve paid attention to each other’s needs during this stressful time. I think we’re each more tender and accepting of the other. I renewed my meditation practice and will continue with that. I’ve also come to value slowing down and quiet time. Consequently, my reading has gone up exponentially. And of course, I’ve had more hours to write, which is my most productive time.
-- Mirinda Kossoff, author of The Rope of Life: A Memoir
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to focus on creating an outdoor customer experience. I believe that will continue. Customers seem to appreciate trees, plantings, birds, grass etc. At the Plant we will continue to bring on new outdoor spaces, new shade structures, more outdoor seating, improved trails, etc.
-- Lyle Estill, Fair Game Beverage Company
I will carry a renewed appreciation for my family and the importance of self-care.
Nothing aches like being separated from a loved one — missing out on hugs and smiles and milestones — but I’ve found new ‘old’ ways to connect, like sending cards or flowers, photographs or handwritten notes to keep in touch. I’ve found great comfort in these practices!
I’ve also taken time to self-reflect, reconnect, and reevaluate my priorities, goals, and individual needs during this time of isolation. Spending more time alone has helped me develop a clear vision of my physical/mental health and wellbeing, and I look forward to continuing to apply mindfulness practices post-COVID, like spending time outdoors, journaling or doing other activities I enjoy.
-- Lt. Sara Pack, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office
I think the biggest change for me has to be having a spirit of thankfulness for the activities and social interactions we take for granted on a daily basis.
-- Kevin Forster, Northwood men’s soccer head coach
Don’t take things for granted. Oftentimes, we are focused on what we are doing a day, a week, a month from now; however we should be living in the moment because it is an instance we are unable to experience again. In a blink of an eye, your way of life can change for the better or worse, which oftentimes is out of our control. Let us learn from the past, live in the moment and have an optimistic view of the future.
-- Cameron Isenhour, Northwood cross country head coach
(The girls) have not yet had a chance to play a game, but in my watching the Jordan-Matthews boys soccer team, I can see this feeling in them too. They play their games with smiles on their faces. You can see the joy they are experiencing in playing again, and so there is no time for complaining about playing time or fussing with each other about small things. The gift, the soccer season, is here, and they are treating it that way.
I hope to take this into our post-pandemic world, seeing everything as a gift. It is a gift I get to spend time with my family, a gift to work (to have a good job) and provide for them, and also a gift that I get to play and coach soccer, even if there is extra work to make all of those things happen.
-- Chip Millard, Jordan-Matthews women’s soccer head coach
COVID-19 took the life of a buddy of mine, A. Lynn Lockrow. I miss him. I also lost my job when my former employer, a trade show and exhibit company in the RTP named ZigZibit, contracted to less than 10% its pre-pandemic size; indeed, the entire entertainment industry has been shattered. With no Broadway tours coming through DPAC, my union card opens no doors in Durham. There is no show biz.
But my family is healthy, and for that I am grateful. We go shopping for my mother so she need not expose herself unnecessarily to the contagion. She gets her last vaccination shot this week, and we want to celebrate her birthday this summer!
-- Dwayne Walls Jr., Chatham resident