COVID-19: Making Virtual Connections in Crisis

With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, peace of mind is at a premium. Routines help people stay calm and collected under pressure, and it’s easier than ever to establish those routines virtually!  Now we can utilize communication platforms for interactive, online activities to help you stay active, healthy, and busy! Now more than ever, it’s essential to stay productive and entertained in both your personal and professional lives. Keeping relationships intact, families in close communication and businesses operating as usual is the best way to maintain normalcy.

As North America’s property management leader, we understand the importance of effective communication., In a time of crisis, staying closely connected when apart, takes on a whole new meaning in our professional and personal lives. Since virtual communication has taken precedence, people everywhere are utilizing tools such as Zoom and Webex for everything from fitness classes to business conferences to happy hours! People have created interactive online activities for their children, communities, friends and businesses!

FirstService Residential associates, residents and board members are no exception! Read their stories of using virtual technology for fun and business while keeping communities engaged.

Getting and Staying Connected

The Great Parks Neighborhood in Irvine, California, has a calendar of events created to help residents make connections and form bonds with other residents. The GPN lifestyle team dedicated six months of hard work for these events. But, given the recent current events, they had no choice but to shift every in-person event to virtual.

Ashley Waterhouse, lifestyle manager at Great Parks Neighborhood in Irvine, California, and her colleagues compiled a weekly activities newsletter for residents. The newsletters contain inspirational quotes that go along with each activity category: entertainment, cooking, kid & adult activities, fitness and community news. She is also working to find one free activity per week for residents to participate in actively. Ashley has been hosting virtual bingo, trivia night and landscape seminars with the landscape vendor!

Great Parks Neighborhood canceled 11 in-person events and created numerous online activities as a replacement.

  • Lights of Hope (board approval to allow holiday lights to bring hope)
  • Bear Hunts (teddy bears scavenger hunt for children)
  • Chalk your Walk (sidewalk chalk competition)
  • GPN Weekly Watch (video competition to connect residents inside their homes with topics each week)
  •  Virtual Corner Connection (online business sharing event which allowed for residents to market locally to their neighbors)
  • Honor a Healthcare Worker (compilation video of residents that are doctors, nurses, etc. at work, thanking them personally)
  • At-Home Movie Night (At-Home Movie Theatre PDF Experience, Pre-Movie Craft, Pre-Movie yard entertainment games, snacks and guide to creating the atmosphere)
  • Virtual Spring Break Field trips
  • Clap for a Cause
  • Facebook Live Scavenger Hunt

In nearby Chula Vista, California, the original community events planned for March to June were canceled during this time. For the time being, workers at Eastlake II are diligently working to provide residents with virtual entertainment and events to help keep the community connected.

“While we cannot facilitate the robust, in-person events we had planned for March to June, this team is working hard to do everything they can to unite residents and entertain them during this challenging season. We have received so many thank you notes and appreciation for uniting the community, says Nancy Layman, General Manager at Eastlake Il, Chula Vista, California. “In addition, we worked on a task force to share all our material with other HOA communities so that they could use our resources and facilitate this within other FirstService Residential communities.”

Physical Education: Quarantine Edition

Keeping your little ones occupied and entertained can be a challenge in general. Now throw in a pandemic and it complicates entertainment even more! Parents have had to think outside of the box and get crafty to help their children amidst the mayhem. Parents are curating interactive and engaging activities for their children to help keep their minds and bodies, both active and healthy. Fortunately, parents have an advantage in that most kids love being competitive and getting rewarded for doing so. Kimberly Danforth, a lifestyle director in Savannah, Texas, said her 7-year-old son was determined to earn his “hard worker” award for the day. So, she decided to host a virtual mini fitness class for her son and his classmates. The class was well attended, and the kids were able to spend quality time with their deeply missed classmates while doing a fun, healthy activity together. This was a win-win for everyone!

“I wanted to help all the other parents who are buckled down and doing it all at home during this quarantine. So, we had a mini dance fitness class and calisthenics for his age group, and it was a huge hit! Danforth says. “Parents and kiddos alike were overjoyed for some interactive fun and a chance to see their friends. I was thankful to be able to utilize our ‘Be Genuinely Helpful’ value for some hard-workers outside of FirstService; kindness never stops.”

Building Relationships

Kudos to Johnny Mercado, general manager at La Boheme in San Diego, California, who demonstrated what it means to "Aim High" for his residents and community. He, along with some of his board members, implemented and delivered exceptional interactive activities for residents, such as a weekly virtual game night every Wednesday and virtual happy hours every Friday. Johnny is also supporting local business by partnering with restaurants to give $25 gift cards to the weekly winners.

“I, was invited to observe this past Wednesday's Quarantine Bingo. It was amazing to see the residents' enthusiasm. Johnny hosts everything from his office, and after the game is over, he suits up in his mask and gloves and personally drops off the gift cards to all winners from the night,” says Kellie Hachten, director of hospitality and quality assurance at FirstService Residential, California.

Tonight, he has hired a DJ to mix things up for his Zoom Happy Hour.  Thank you, Johnny, for making this a "FUN" time for your residents at La Boheme. Your residents and FirstService Residential are lucky to have you! Well done and keep up the great work," says Hachten.

Stay tuned for more heartwarming stories of how associates, board members and residents are taking action to support the people in their lives and communities. We are truly stronger together!