BTV Board Members Organize Resident Check-ins During Pandemic
Jacqui Brandli, president of the Butterfield Board of Directors, has a routine each Wednesday. She has lunch at the BTV Bistro to make herself available to residents who may want to join her, discuss concerns or just visit over lunch.
But since the pandemic struck, many social aspects of life as we know it are on hold – including Brandli’s Wednesday catch-ups at the Bistro. Village residents, especially those who live alone, are vulnerable to a unique kind of loneliness that can come with self-isolating and distancing from others.
“With the Bistro closed, I lost most of my contact with residents, and they lost that opportunity to discuss concerns or just talk,” Brandli said. “I was a mental health professional and am well aware of the effects the isolation can be having. Sometimes the best treatment for negative feelings is to be able to vent and know that someone cares.”
Brandli spoke to board Treasurer David Williams, who joins her on some Wednesdays at the Bistro, and he shared her concerns. So they met with Patricia Poertner, senior director of BTV Resident Services and a licensed social worker, who identified about 150 residents who could be particularly vulnerable, including those living alone and without vehicles.
With the list of names, Brandli, Williams and other board members got to work, making contact with each resident either by phone or with a safely distanced in-person visit.
“We simply introduce ourselves as a BTV board member and generally ask, ‘How are you doing?’” Brandli said. “And then we listen.”
They heard a mixture of concern, worry and gratitude. Some residents were new to the Village when the pandemic struck and hadn’t had time to assimilate. Others had suffered the illness or even the death of a loved one. Overwhelmingly, residents were grateful for the fastidious safety, care and protection BTV administration and staff are providing.
“Almost all said they were appreciative for the efforts Butterfield is making during the pandemic,” Brandli said. “The entertainment, education, fitness and wellness classes being offered virtually and with safety in mind, the delivery of meals to their homes, and the technology BTV is affording to help them stay informed and connected.”
Board member Bryn Bagwell said personal contact has been key to providing reassurance to residents – and even opening new doors of communication and support.
For instance, Bagwell knew that Wulf and Ingrid Polonius were relatively new to the area when they moved to Butterfield. After the Poloniuses were featured on the cover of the July/August issue of Butterfield LIFE, Bagwell saw an opportunity to help.
“I offered to send copies of the magazine to their daughter and any other family members,” Bagwell said. “Ingrid gave me a list of names and addresses of family and friends around the world. I mailed at least 15 copies and listed my return address as ‘Big Fan of the Poloniuses, BTV Fayetteville.’” Once the copies were received, friends began contacting them to reconnect. It was a great way to facilitate long overdue connections with friends.”
Brandli said the board is continuing to stay in touch with residents with help from BTV’s founding churches and others in the community. The outreach, she said, has strengthened the bond between the board and Village residents.
“I really appreciate our members’ willingness to invest their time and energy in reaching out,” she said. “These are essentially ‘cold’ calls, and you never really know what reaction you are going to get. But our board has been willing to take that chance and it has made a difference.”