This week we enjoyed a special guest visitor! Check out our conversation with Samantha below for some practical tips about how to host a virtual Friendship Club meeting.
See transcript below of this conversation between Heather DeBoer of Friendship Ministries Canada and her special guest, Samantha K from the Friendship Group of Alliston Christian Reformed Church, Ontario, CA.
Heather: So we were talking last week about Zoom, and then I asked for responses, and Samantha responded right away and said “We’re using Zoom! We’re still having Friendship every Monday night.” So here we are. We’re going to bend Samantha’s ear; get some ideas on how to make this work. So Samantha, how many people are getting to your Zoom on Monday nights?
Samantha: I would say the first time we ran it we had approximately 12 people, and I want to say we had nearly 20 join us on Monday night. A lot of them are from group homes; I believe from one house we had 6 individuals sharing one iPad [to join the Zoom call]. They had gathered in the living room and had the iPad set up on the coffee table.
Heather: And what exactly are you doing during your Zoom session? What does your night look like?
Samantha: We start with our singing. We try to keep it as close as possible to our regular schedule at Friendship. We start with singing, and we keep it to the songs that the Friends know from the top of their heads, so they don’t need the books, as those are still in the church. We’re trying not to have contact with the [group] houses to keep the quarantine as best we can. Then we have a moment of prayer where we also check in with our higher-functioning Friends who are able to vocalize their feelings, so we can add them into our prayer. And then we go into our lesson. Last week we did Joseph and his coat of colors, and we had the story book. I held the book up to the camera so everybody could see the pictures as I read. And then we finished with singing. And we also did some sharing of the coats that the Friends handmade in their houses before we started the lesson.
Heather: Right, so you sent them via email beforehand with the lesson?
Samantha: Yes. So this week I had sent an email. I used the Community Living Association here. They have a large email they send out here to individuals in the community who would use Friendship. I sent an email setting up our Zoom time and our Zoom password – it’s very important when you’re using Zoom that you do use that password. Then I sent out what our lesson was and what we would be doing, and if there were any activities for the Friends to do in their houses. Next week we’re doing Noah’s ark, and the Friends are invited to draw their favorite animal or make it out of some sort of media. Or if they have a stuffed animal or something, or a puppet in their house, to bring it to the meeting on Monday so they can have it for sharing.
Heather: Nice, that’s awesome. How does the singing work?
Samantha: [Laughing] The singing is as best as it can be. I sing to my camera the best that I can – I am not a very good singer, but the Friends do it! I was very nervous the first night. We have one individual who is confined to a wheelchair. She’s nonverbal, but as soon as we started singing the song she started jumping in her chair to the music. Once you see that, it’s worth it.
Heather: That’s awesome. So, do you mute them? Depending on how big a group is, sometimes it’s hard to hear if everyone is talking at once.
Samantha: No, we haven’t had that problem at all. I don’t want to mute the Friends, because a lot of the way I teach – because I’m not an individual who’s comfortable speaking to people – being up there and just reading a lesson. My teaching style seems to thrive on the feedback from the Friends, so I don’t want to mute them because then I might miss something. And actually, when we start if their microphone is muted I say “Oh hey, your microphone is muted, do you want to un-mute it and then we can hear you and you can join in?” But they don’t seem to all talk at once, they seem to wait their turn.
Heather: Awesome. And how long is your lesson or their time together?
Samantha: It’s 30 minutes right now, because the Zoom platform allows 30 minute meetings for free. But I have gotten permission from my council meeting to purchase the Zoom plan, which I believe is $20 a month. You can have meetings up to 24 hours long. So we’re going to do our 30 minute one this Monday, and then move to an hour. Our regular Friendship group runs for an hour and a half, usually.
Heather: Yeah, an hour in front of your screen can be long, so I think that will be plenty.
Samantha: Yes! And you won’t have to rush through your lesson. [Rushing and laughing] I was reading and like, “We’ve got to keep going! We’ve got to keep going! Two more pages left and we can sing our songs!”
Heather: Yes, it’s helpful to be picking a lesson that’s not too long, either. Well, I want to thank you very much for spending this time with us. It’s awesome. And I want to encourage anyone who wants to give this a try – hey, we’ve got someone who’s tried it already! Give it a whirl, and let me know [how it goes]. Whatever ideas you have, you know, if you come up with a better idea, let us know. We’re willing to try anything. We all want to do things better and easier. Any way to share God’s love, right?
- Try Zoom for a free 40-minute video call.
- Encourage your Friends to show off their talents, give an encouraging message, or highlight what they’re doing in quarantine with a video like this one!
- Get FREE access to the online Bible study “Jesus: Face to Face” using the code INTHISTOGETHER at togethersmallgroups.org
Here for you – virtually!
Friendship Ministries Canada