Throughout the pandemic Capitol Lakes Foundation Director, Lenee Kruse, hosted virtual book discussion groups. "The Foundation's book program started out as just one component of a care package the Resident Services team created and the Foundation funded shortly after Capitol Lakes shut down in Spring 2020," Kruse recounts. "The book discussion groups were started as a way to keep us all connected when we had to remain physically apart."
The groups were a hit and over the last year Kruse has facilitated 10 discussions on four books residents recommended and the Foundation purchased. In March 2021 - as Kruse was preparing for the most recent discussion groups - another change was brewing on campus. But this time change brought hope.
Roughly one year after shut down nearly the entire Capitol Lakes campus was vaccinated making in person events once again possible. "As I was scheduling our March discussion groups around the novel "News of the World" I knew I would keep a virtual option, but I also knew that residents were looking for opportunities to safely re-connect after a year of separation," Kruse states.
She decided to offer one virtual discussion group and one in-person group. In coordination with the Capitol Lakes Film Committee she also added an evening screening of the newly released film starring Tom Hanks that was based off the novel. "I thought both in-person opportunities might be popular, but we had such a tremendous response to the in person discussion group that we had to add another date. Within a week or so that group was filled to capacity as well. The interest in seeing the movie in the Grand Hall - when it was also being shown on our internal TV station - reinforced for me the extent to which people were looking to come together again."
On March 26th Kruse and 9 residents gathered for the the first in person event the Foundation had hosted in well over a year. "We jumped right into our discussion," Kruse remembers, "before one of the residents asked if we could do re-introductions. It made me realize just how separated we all had been from each other these last 12 months. I was glad that we were able to offer this opportunity to re-connect and look forward to working with residents on additional opportunities as we look ahead with hope to the end of the pandemic."