KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's not a typical visit for Laurie Stone and her little sister Maria, but they're making the most of their time apart with a video phone call.
“I'm just thankful for technology and the ability to talk and text on the phone,” Stone said.
Amid coronavirus concerns, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee halted in-person visits, and for the first time in the program's history, they're operating 100% remotely.
While the distance can prove challenging for many matches, Match Support Director Conner Patterson said it can also benefit some as they think of new ways to connect.
“I definitely think it can benefit our matches in some ways as they come up with some innovative ideas, whether it’s skyping, talking on the phone, doing things remotely like watching the same movie or reading a book. It can definitely be a challenge to keep relationships maintained and connected, but I think it can strengthen them in some ways because they’re having to come up with new ways to connect," Patterson said.
In addition to routinely checking on the matches, Big Brothers Big Sisters is also checking on the families and their needs during what is a difficult time for many Americans.
"We're focusing on 'are essential things being met? Do you have food? How is your income?' If there are concerns with the parent, we’re making sure we connect them with essential services in the community,' CEO Brent Waugh said.
As for Stone and Maria, they're looking forward to a time when they can see each other again. For now, though, they're happy for the quality time together, even if it's not in-person.
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