Building Connection Through Meaningful Moments
Following the pandemic’s interruption of daily life, the New York City-Manhattan, New York, Alumnae Club wasted no time supporting its members. Club leadership recognized times were challenging for some of their sisters, especially because New York City was hit particularly hard with COVID-19. Staying engaged with alumnae was a top priority but honoring their space was equally important. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, for the first few months of quarantine, the club increased its book club meetings to twice a month. Once the summer rolled around and the pandemic lifestyle became more normalized, club leaders began to slowly introduce new virtual initiatives and build partnerships outside their network. Having met club leaders from Nation’s Capital - District of Columbia Alumnae Club at Convention 2019, NYC-Manhattan's leaders rekindled their connection to provide a creative programming calendar for members.
Leaders of Nation’s Capital Alumnae Club had been operating similar to NYC-Manhattan. Their Bordeaux & Books Club has been a wonderful source of connection and creative energy for their members over the years. With the onset of COVID-19, they took their book club virtual as well. Nation’s Capital surveyed their members to determine what they would like from a virtual experience and two key themes emerged: purposeful Zoom time and engaging in meaningful conversations around current events.
Building connections and having meaningful moments together was a common theme among NYC-Manhattan members as well. The needs of the club’s members changed dramatically with the pandemic. Before, an event didn’t need to have much more planned than meeting at an agreed upon place and enjoying each other’s company. Now, connection with sisters is top priority, but events need to be slightly more curated to ensure that happens. While a happy hour event used to be well-attended,sisters are now looking for something more than mingling. They want to partake in something that engages their brains. Randi Amalfitano, New York Eta shared, “Prior to COVID-19, my days consisted of seeing colleagues on a regular basis and having access to a gym. Now, the need to build connections in other ways feels more necessary than ever.”
As the fall began, both NYC-Manhattan and Nation’s Capital began thinking about how to handle the colder weather that would soon arrive and holidays that were sure to be anything but typical. When deciding on a potential collaboration, Thanksgiving became the perfect opportunity. NYC-Manhattan’s annual Thanksgiving Potluck is a club favorite. Not wanting to lose anything more to 2020, the club proceeded with the event and asked Nation’s Capital and Bostonian, Massachusetts, Alumnae Club to co-host. All three clubs were excited about the opportunity for alumnae along the coast to enjoy the holiday with sisters. Read A Very Pi Phi Thanksgiving recapping some of their favorite Pi Phi stories and recipes from the event.
The creative initiatives that have developed due to COVID-19 have a central theme of connection. Members want to join events and activities that provide something they’re missing in their day-to-day life. Although this year has been anything but normal, alumnae clubs and chapters across North America continue to rise to the challenge, meeting the needs of their members in the moment.
Published November 24, 2020