Finding Connection in a Time of Isolation

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “You Are Not Alone.” We asked our Hoffmanites, “How did you stay connected with friends and family over the course of the last year?” It’s our hope that this list will serve as a reminder for us all that during a period of extreme isolation, we were never alone and that moving forward connection is never more than a text, phone call, etc. away.

“Connection is really important to me, so I stayed connected with my bible study and small group weekly via Zoom before resuming safely outside when we could. Going on hikes or grabbing coffee outside 1:1 with my close friends has also deepened our connections and reminded us that we are not alone – even if we don’t see each other often.” – Melissa Lewelling

“Since I relocated to our Portland office in the midst of the pandemic, I loved that Zoom friend dates became such a normal thing for everyone as we all tried to stay connected in a socially distant way. Regularly zooming with my California friends and family made the transition to Oregon much easier!” – Kelly Trom

“I stayed connected with my friends and family by facetiming more often, binge watching the same shows so we can react together, finding new games for us to play together online and planning out a list of vacations we want to take after the pandemic is over.” – Shannon Nelson

“Over the last year, I stayed connected to my loved ones by telling them when I thought of them. It sounds so simple, but if someone I cared about showed up in my dreams or thoughts one day, I would use it as sign to check in with them. I feel like it’s never a bad thing to tell someone you care about them, and this was my way of showing others how much they mean to me.” – Brooklynn Loiselle

“The HK Government ‘encouraged’ employers to allow employees to WFH twice in the past year since the pandemic outbreak. When the law allowed us to go out and without wearing a mask on certain ‘trails,’ I took my friends and family’s eyeballs to all my hikes via social media (FB more so, and IG). I got lots of feedback here and there, and friends from overseas — who are still in lockdown — enjoyed a lot of different scenes in HK. Personally, I managed to explore different places, which I had never been even I though I’ve lived here for ages, and also found myself ready to challenge my body and mind hiking up the sharpest peak in HK.” – Lydia Lau

“We use FaceTime to play ‘si̍p-pat—lah’ (Taiwanese dice rolling game) with the families in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia during Chinese New Year.” – Rita Ting

“Throughout the past year, I have stayed connected with friends and family through countless FaceTime calls, participating in virtual paint parties together, and going on lots of socially distanced walks and picnics. This time has also encouraged me to reach out and check in on friends I didn’t use to see as often.” – Kyra Hanson

“Though most of our board games have sadly been stashed this past year, gaming still served as a key way to stay connected with friends and family during the pandemic. Through the magic of videoconferencing, we kept our D&D campaign moving right along, and coordinated Animal Crossing events allowed us to show off our villages and commiserate about how Tom Nook owns everything. Through screensharing apps, we also found a way to share new movies with each other (Jupiter Ascending is WEIRD.)” – Matthew Burrows

“During the pandemic, my fiancé and I started cooking new dishes and creating fun cocktails. We decided to extend this to our family, and every other Saturday night, we made dinner and cocktails together via Zoom. Each time, someone was in charge of finding a dinner and cocktail recipe no one had ever tried that we would cook and eat together. Being that part of our family is in California and us in Oregon, it was special to see them regularly and eat dinner together. The new tradition became something we all looked forward to each week.” – Mikaela Farasyn

“Outside of the standard recommendations for staying connected – FaceTime, virtual parties and game nights, and socially distant meet ups – I tried to remember to check in on friends and family at random, or send little gifts that let me know I was thinking of them. Everything felt so scheduled and difficult throughout the pandemic it was nice to connect on a slightly more casual basis.” – Sarah Collins

“I stayed connected with friends and family through social media and a good old fashioned phone call. After some time into the pandemic, we also did a drive-by (in the car with masks) to physically see each other. As an auntie of four, I really missed being able to play with my nieces and nephew. They would call to talk to me every week, and a portion of quarantine, I even stayed with them for three weeks. It is mentally hard to be a part from family, especially children as they don’t fully understand what is going on. I’m glad that now we’re more comfortable getting together socially distanced.” – Katrina Lockhart

“Small, socially distanced gatherings were very helpful in staying connected last summer, but once it got cold Zoom ‘parties’ with friends and family were essential. It sounds funny but scheduling out group calls with friends & family in advance has been super helpful, as it partially makes up for the random social interactions that typically happen when out and about. At work I’ve found that carving out time to meet with coworkers individually was very helpful in maintaining (or establishing) those strong working relationships, and keeps every work day fresh and exciting.” – Jack Dulzo

“Set up FaceTime calls with my mom and sister. They’re both in Malaysia, so we tend to catch up on a monthly cadence via FaceTime. Sometimes, my sister and I would spontaneously call each other too, particularly when either one of us is getting ready to go somewhere or eating dinner. One of my closest friends happens to be my roommate (lucky me!), so we usually catch up while one of us makes dinner. We talk about all kinds of topics – whether it’s just about our day-to-day work, entertainment or family. Other than that, I started getting back into reading late last year (because of TikTok) and did join a couple of online book clubs on Discord. It’s a nice way to get to know new people and talk about our common interests.” – Samantha Tan

“I’ve been remaining connected with friends and family through the creation of book clubs and lil’ Zooms with games.” – Kelly Stone

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