There is no way to perfectly simulate an in-person Thanksgiving in covid-surge virtual space. There just isn’t. We all long for a semblance of normalcy and may want to claim Thanksgiving as a marker. But, the risk is real. Covid is surging in the Greater Philadelphia region with an increasing number of new cases per day. Sadly, the best choice for our loved ones is to stay away this year so that we may all be around to celebrate next year – together. That said, there are some creative ideas out there to help you and your family members connect contact-free.
- Host Thanksgiving on Zoom, and everyone can see one another’s tables even if you’re not sitting in the same house! Connect more by distributing pre-packaged meals in advance so everyone is eating the same thing at the same time. The standard dinner table side conversations can take place via zoom breakout rooms or the chat function.
- For relatives in close proximity but outside the immediate household, organize a drive-by Thanksgiving (similar to what has been done for graduations and birthdays). Schedule each household to drive to all other households at times throughout the day and issue greetings and gratitude from a safe social distance.
- Host a socially distanced potluck by assigning different dishes to each household and delivering to one another before the big meal. This way, everyone can share in the family’s specialties!
- To cultivate a sense of just being together, share a playlist and set up a live feed (or back to zoom) with all other microphones muted.
- Play an online board game. Scrabble, Clue, Scattergories and others have mobile apps so you can play together even if you’re not at the same table.
- Watch a movie together across households via various apps and/or watch a football game(s) together and share audio via a cell phone based conference call.
- Encourage each household to record a greeting for all family members and play the greetings your household receives from all others.
- For the gamers…play a massive online video game with the whole family.
- Engage family members virtually and spark meaningful sharing and catch-up by way of icebreaker cards (see photo above…)
Enjoy one or several of these ideas and then share your experience with us!
It may already seem like a long time ago, but just last week at this time Pennsvylania and Philadelphia in particiular were in focus and on point as votes were tallied in the national election. It bears repeating that there hasn’t been a more important election during most of our lifetimes. And the highest voter turnout on record reflected that fact. This community moved, and was not going to be sidelined. If ever there was a doubt that one’s vote counted – this election made it clear that your vote matters, your voice matters, and YOU matter.
Your vote generated the first, but, as she said, “not the last,” African-American Indian Woman Vice President of the United States!!! (I know this is an academic audience, but I’m confident you appreciate the intentional grammar flaw 🙂
VP elect Harris and President elect Biden have their work cut out for them. Leading and governing our divided population into a shared future with true liberty and justice for all, while rebuilding relationships with our international allies, revitalizing our economy and rededicating it to sustaining the planet, and ending a pandemic that has demanded significant changes to our daily lives is not a small task!
With that in mind, consider your civic contribution. Thank you to those who worked to drive voter turnout and ensure all votes were counted this election cycle. As you’ve heard our newly elected leaders say, “Now the work begins.” With the abundance of gifts and skills and leadership present in members of the ACE network, we can make this United States a better place. What might you do?
Congratulations to Porsha Harris, a current student at Harcum College in Delaware County who is the recipient of a $1,000 scholarship awarded by the Riddle HealthCare Foundation. Porsha began her higher education journey in Fall 2019 as a Human Services major and has earned a spot on both the President’s and Dean’s list for each semester that she has attended Harcum. A team leader and supervisor in the nutrition department at Riddle Hospital for fifteen years, Porsha manages staff and is responsible for ensuring all patients receive nutritionally appropriate meals per their specific health needs. With 227 beds at three meals per day – that’s a lot of vitamin tracking and carb counting! Her nutrition expertise may make her eligible for portfolio credit toward her degree. To further her personal and professional development, Porsha is participating in the Community Scholar Leadership program with I-LEAD. More information about the Leadership program can be found here.
Most of you are juggling multiple responsibilities every day. Work schedules, childcare, ZOOM learning for your kids, household chores, grocery shopping. Whew! And on top of it all, you decided to go back to school adding yet another layer of complexity to your already complicated life. Because you know where you want to go and you made the commitment to do what you had to do to get there.
How to keep so many balls in the air? Time. Management.
We took a look at some time management tools (so you don’t have to!) and decided that the most helpful information emphasized tried and true approaches and principles.
In an article in The Harvard Business Review, author Erich C. Dierdorff talks about the three most important skills needed to successfully manage your time. He says you need:
- Awareness: thinking realistically about your time by understanding it is a limited resource.
- Arrangement: designing and organizing your goals, plans, schedules, and tasks to effectively use time.
- Adaptation: monitoring your use of time while performing activities, including adjusting to interruptions or changing priorities.
And Time Management expert and writer Julie Morgenstern suggests “do’s and don’ts” of time management that include:
- Map out everything that is important, by making a task list.
- Set priorities.
- Create a period time for one to manage.
- Say “No.”
- Don’t drop everything when feeling overwhelmed.
- Don’t think a critical task will get done in one’s spare time.
So before you download apps or read a book or just throw your hands up in surrender, spend some time assessing your skills as outlined by Dierdorff and then make your own list of do’s and dont’s and review it at the beginning of each day. And if you have any strategies that worked for you, please share!
Meet Jovani. A single mother of two from the city of Chester, Jovani was anxious about returning to school as an adult, having so much time out of the classroom. She would ask herself “Am I too old? Will I remember anything? Will I look stupid?”. But she put those negative thoughts aside and enrolled in the Human Services degree program to be a role model to her children and improve the quality of their lives. “I wanted to show them that there is more to life than running the street and hanging with your friends. Too many girls in this community get pregnant and don’t finish school. I wanted my daughter to say – if Mommy can do it, I can do it.” Her son is proud too, recognizing at his young age the challenge it is to work full time, take care of children, and go to school. “You do all that and get good grades?!”
In addition to her children, Jovani credits her fellow students and site coordinator Andrea Mathias for providing the support she’s needed to stick with it and earn her degree. From providing supplies for class to the right encouraging words at the right time, Ms. Andrea was there. Peers organized study groups to get through classes together, and the college stepped in as well, loaning Jovani a laptop and funds for books when her car was broken into.
In spite of the shift to remote learning necessitated by the covid-19 pandemic, Jovani is on track to graduate in December 2020. With her degree, Jovani anticipates finding a better job and upgrading her family’s housing. She also successfully founded her nonprofit this year, an advocacy organization for young survivors of abuse called ‘Be Your Kids’ Voice,’ winning a vision entrepreneur of the year award in the process.
Thank you Jovani for sharing your story, and congratulations on your upcoming graduation!
The pandemic. It’s literally…everywhere. It has become the filter through which all daily life activities and interactions must be sifted and adjusted. Necessary changes have caused upheaval in routines, patterns, relationships. “Normal” life was always a bit stressful, but covid has upped the stress decibel in all of our lives. We feel it. Our households feel it. The wider community and even the planet feels it. And within a Covid operating environment there are also several other intense happenings: the most important election of our time, the polarization of America, the Black Lives Matter movement, disastrous fires and unusually intense weather events…there is no let up. And we all feel the need for a break, a pause in the chaos to breathe.
The proverbial phrase “the only constant is change” is an understatement.
To maintain wellness in the midst of everything, we need to create our own pauses. Below are some ideas about how to insert time to breathe, literally, into our day. [To maintain overall to generate light and clear space in and around us]
First. Limit your intake of news and updates. It is recommended to check the news two times per day, perhaps in the morning and evening, and not right before bedtime. The 24 hour news cycle can cultivate stress over what is largely out of our control. Limit also your interactions with people who bring anxious emotion and negativity to every conversation about these times.
Second. Control what you can, starting with your own wellbeing. Focus on the basics (adequate sleep, healthy meals, physical movement). These health building blocks are especially critical now. Add or strengthen a spiritual practice that calms the mind. Mindfulness or breath meditation is a simple and powerful way to create internal space and lightness. Just try it for 5-10 minutes/day and notice what happens.
Third. Do kindness. Starting with yourself!!! Be gentle, rather than judgmental, of your thoughts, actions, struggles. Make time to engage in activities you enjoy. Protect yourself from going down the rabbit hole of negative thinking by focusing on this present moment. The fastest route back to present moment awareness is to do a body scan and practice gratitude. Look up and around for opportunities to serve others. Doing an act of service connects us with each other and can alleviate a sense of powerlessness we may have at this time.
Take time to create your pause. Make space in the chaos to breathe. And be well.
Take Advantage of a Life-Transforming Opportunity: I-LEAD’s Leadership Development Program
A Program Specially Designed for Harcum’s Community Scholars
One of life’s most important lessons is that success and happiness do not result simply from intelligence, abilities, and hard work. Of course, your efforts at school and in your job or business matter a lot. These efforts deeply affect your future. But there is something perhaps even more important to your future success and happiness — your relationship network and your ability to collaborate creatively with others. Your success within interpersonal collaborations — at home with your family, your friends, and relatives, your neighbors in your community, your colleagues in your workplace. Your ability to create and follow through on these opportunities for creative collaboration will profoundly affect your success and happiness in life.
The skills required for such creative collaborations are not easy to identify and the paths to strengthen your skills and abilities in this area are not always clear and accessible. People with wisdom and substantial experience refer to these skills in many different ways. Sometimes they are called 21st Century Skills. We also call them “people skills,” or “emotional intelligence.” We might call them “teamwork” or we might understand them simply as the ability to be effective. Very often, we refer to this bundle of skills involved in creative collaboration as “leadership.”
Leadership is a very complex human activity that is a critical part of group dynamics across a broad range of settings. Leadership involves mindfulness, listening, dialogue, negotiation, conflict resolution, visioning, teamwork, systems thinking, ethical reasoning and other related abilities. When people within a group have poor leadership skills, the group often become dysfunctional, ineffective, or engaged in endless internal conflicts and infighting. Groups that lack members with strong leadership skills may encounter ongoing problems and eventually may fail or disband.
I-LEAD’s Leadership Program
I-LEAD (the Institute for Leadership Education) has twenty-five years of experience helping people to develop their leadership skills and in doing so, to transform their future. For more than fifteen years, I-LEAD has been a leading partner collaborating with Harcum College to build the Achieve College Education Movement (the ACE Network). The ACE Network is formed by all of the community-based organizations in Harcum’s Partnership Sites program.
This year in a special collaboration with Harcum’s Community Scholars program, every Harcum Community Scholar (that’s you!) has full funding (meaning no out of pocket costs) to participate in I-LEAD’s Leadership program. Should you choose to participate, this program provides you with an opportunity that will help you build powerful leadership skills that will revolutionize and strengthen your ability to interact creatively with others. Graduates of our Leadership program have had amazing success in building businesses, serving in positions of political leadership, taking on community leadership roles and, most importantly, achieving personal happiness and success. By participating in the program, you will build lifelong friendships and build a set of specific skills that will strengthen you for the rest of your life and help you to engage, aspire and achieve your dreams.
Take Action Now!
Click here to see the Leadership Program schedule for the 2020-21 year and to register. Don’t miss this important opportunity to take charge of your future and invest in yourself.
Meet Thomas Jarrett, a graduate of Harcum College who is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at West Chester University.
Like many adult students, Thomas had tried attending college before he enrolled at Harcum. He dropped in and out of classes at the local community college but just didn’t feel ready to commit to a degree program. Eventually, he had to drop out completely to take care of family members who were in poor health. During that time he bounced around different retail jobs before landing a position as manager and then one as a supervisor which came with a crazy schedule. Thomas helped some younger cousins figure out how to sign up for SATs and paid their fees; later he helped them apply to college. A natural helper, Thomas was glad to be there but started to feel resentment for their opportunity and his responsibility. “I knew it was the right thing to do, but I felt stuck.”
Thomas didn’t like these negative feelings or the fact that his work schedule dictated his life. He felt like his life path was set and opportunity had passed him by. Unwilling to settle for such dissatisfaction with his current conditions, he decided to take some time off work to reflect. In those quiet moments, Thomas saw that this wasn’t the end of the road for him. And on that same vacation, he saw a Facebook ad for the Harcum Partnership Sites Achieve College Education (ACE) program. “And I knew right away that it was for me.”
Determined to take action on his own behalf, Thomas spoke with the site coordinator for Harcum in Chester. He decided to apply and was accepted as a Harcum Community Scholar that provided, besides other benefits, a generous scholarship from the college. With the support of fellow students and staff, Thomas finally achieved his dream of earning a college degree — with honors! He’d proven to himself that he was capable of succeeding; that understanding propelled him to seek a bachelor’s degree. A shift in mindset reframed all of Thomas’ life experience. “Everyone has their season. The journey is the journey. This is mine.”
As a Harcum Community Scholar, you too will have a transformative experience while working towards your degree. And you’ll become a shining example to those around you — proof that just about anything is possible if you seize the moment!
To connect with Thomas, please reach out to [email protected].
Since I-LEAD launched the Achieve College Education (ACE) program in 2005, more than 1000 of you have earned your associate degree and many of you have gone on to earn a bachelor’s degree. It took a lot of heart and courage and determination to get through school while working, taking care of kids, and dealing with the random stuff life throws at you.
The ACE program was specifically set-up for people who simply couldn’t travel to a college campus several times a week, at different times of the day, to take classes. It was set-up to fit in with all of your other responsibilities that working parents have.
This fall, we are taking ACE into the foster care community in the Philadelphia region. Like many of you, young adults in foster care have to overcome many hurdles as they move through life. To many, getting to college, navigating the bureaucracy, while often feeling unprepared academically, seems like too much. The supportive services provided by ACE Site Coordinators will also be available to these young adults to facilitate their awareness of the importance of higher education to secure a stable future, and enroll in and complete an associate degree program through our new Site Partner, Delta Community Supports/Delta Family Services at both its Glenside and Levittown locations. Delta Community Supports is a leader in the human services field and committed to enriching the lives of those served and nurturing the development of staff. The Supervised Independent Living Program (SIL) for youth aging out of foster is hosted in Glenside and the first class starts this fall. If you know a young adult in the foster care system or someone who is soon to age out of care, let us know. We can help! Send an email to Cynda at [email protected] or call 877-427-7037 x3.