Key Takeaways:

During the pandemic, many people turned to GetSetUp for a virtual community where they could learn about hundreds of topics in a live, interactive community of their peers. One such Learner was Nancy from New York City.

The concept of six degrees of separation was in vogue in the 90s. It is the idea that everyone is connected more or less to anyone in the world by a mere six people. That can be hard to imagine at times, and more so than ever during the pandemic, when it seemed like separation was all around us.

With lockdowns in place, and safety a major concern, many people stayed at home and started to turn to virtual communities to supplement and replace friendships and in-person community events. The pandemic hit everyone hard but especially seniors who were most at risk. Many senior centers and community centers closed down. Some continue to remain closed or have opened and shut multiple times, making routine and a sense of community almost impossible in the past two years.

That’s why many people turned to GetSetUp for a virtual community where they could learn about hundreds of topics in a live, interactive community of their peers. One such learner was Nancy from New York City.

“GetSetUp classes are just wonderful. If I didn’t have this I don’t know what I would have done. I was so depressed,” said Nancy.

Nancy started to take various classes and became a regular at Coffee Chat and the Decluttering classes. Regular classes introduced her to other learners who became friends like Terri from Sacramento, California.

Nancy also joined some of the groups that Terri hosts as a Community Host. She started to develop her own community within the larger GetSetUp platform, with learners who shared her interests.

Leaning on friends in times of need

On December 28, 2021, Nancy’s building put in a new digital heating system. It was supposed to kick in automatically if the temperature dropped below 55F. 

“The new system didn’t work. I didn’t have heat from Dec 28th. It was a horror. No one ever got back to me either, it just turned on, on the 6th of January,” said Nancy.

Nancy was without heat and feeling distraught since her building’s management didn’t resolve her issue. So she mentioned it in one of her GetSetUp classes.

The GetSetUp community rallied, led by Terri, a retired social worker. Terri had already helped Nancy previously. She had provided memory care research and support numbers to call to assist in Nancy’s ex-husband’s Alzheimer’s treatment, which Nancy had some concerns about.

Nancy’s heat issue became a group topic of conversation in Coffee and Chat. Terri later reached out to her to find out how she could better assist her.

According to Terri, “Nancy was distraught and just couldn’t focus to do the navigation necessary to get the support she needed at the time. So I did the research and got the numbers to call to provide her support.”

Unfortunately, neither Nancy nor Terri were getting a response. So Terri reached out to Cheryl, another member of the GetSetUp community and a retired social worker.

“I said this is what I have done and can you think of something else to do? Cheryl came up with more thoughts and agencies and we got to work researching and calling,” said Terri 

With the holidays, responses from the people they reached out directly to, including local media, her councilwoman, her assemblywoman,  and the new mayor never came. But the GetSetUp community worked together as a team to identify what resources were available and how to get them to Nancy.

“People were ready to send a heater, blankets, and warm clothes,  but there was no way to ensure it got delivered to the right floor and didn’t grow legs and walk off,” said Terri.

Terri also called 311, which is a non-emergency phone number that people can call in many cities to find information about services, make complaints, or report problems like graffiti or road damage. They contacted Nancy on Jan. 2 but since it was 58F that particular day they said the landlord wasn’t required to turn on the heat and closed the case. 

During a second class where Guide Natalie and Community Host Terri led a session on Getting Through the Holidays with Grace and Pause, the group wound up talking about Nancy’s situation with learners around the world.

“Here we are in Natalie’s class, led from Australia, and we had people from around the world working on this issue. Nita from India offered her contacts in New York City. Later I realized that GetSetUp has a partnership with the state of New York so I thought it would be good to reach out to the CEO of GetSetUp Neil and explain the situation so he could contact someone from this partnership,” said Terri. We emailed back and forth into the wee hours.

Terri needed feet on the ground and Neil elevated this request to the local Area Agency on Aging in New York City. Despite Area Agencies on Aging being a resource for seniors - many don't know about them. These organizations offer in-home assessments and links to services for seniors, like help with routine household chores, such as shopping, doing laundry, general house cleaning, preparing meals, and yard work such as mowing grass, raking leaves, pulling weeds, and clearing snow.

In the end, before the local Area Agency on Aging could offer assistance, a former doctor and friend of Nancy’s dropped off warm resources for Nancy to use.

“I got tremendous support from the community and Terri was the top angel,” said Nancy.

Terri just modestly replied, “I got the ball rolling and everyone jumped on my bandwagon.”

This time the issue was solved with a little help from one’s friends and working together as a team.

“We had lots of good thoughts and prayer support from members. Everyone knows who Nancy is and people were ready to help and were concerned, ” said Terri. 

While these friends might be around the world, these ladies proved that with teamwork, encouragement, and a strong support system anything is possible. Plus now that everyone is warm and toasty again they can focus on Saturday night dance sessions on GetSetUp with Glenda. 

No matter what day of the week it is as Terri put it,

“I love love love GetSetUp” and Nancy chimed in “Me too!

May 17, 2022
Community Stories

Classes by:

Liz Miller

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