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Easing Their Way Back: How NSSC members are slowly returning to pre-pandemic normalcy

May 01, 2021

by Alan Blitz

As the NSSC community carefully reopens from the pandemic, it turns out there is only one path for your return to normalcy. It is the one you find the most comfortable. 

While vaccination numbers continue to grow and pandemic restrictions are lifted, what happens next is entirely up to you. NSSC members shared thoughts on staying active during the pandemic and finding their way back to normal within their personal safety zones. 

Dolph Williams: Personal comfort level guides return to “normalcy” 

I would say to others that personal comfort level is the primary determinant for an individual's return to "normalcy," said Glenview resident Dolph.

“I would not rush anyone but would suggest that deciding what levels of protection will be the minimum requirement for associating with an individual and not allow someone to tell them what is adequate.” Dolph has taken this approach for himself and has said no to some visits with acquaintances.

“I am finding that the year of lessened activity has taken its toll on me. Resuming some of my outside hobbies has been too difficult and I have discontinued some of them, at least for now,” he added.

As soon as NSSC re-opened, he returned to the Fitness Center and has attended personal training sessions regularly. “After the pandemic began, I got most of my activity by working around the yard and going to physical therapy. My personal contact was by email, phone or Zoom calls,” Dolph said.

“My wife and I have now gotten our COVID immunization shots and we have invited a very few friends to come over for drinks or meals. Recently she made her first outside visit to a restaurant with a shut-in friend,” he added.

Moving forward, Dolph shared that next week he will have lunch with some of the friends he had said no to earlier in the pandemic and at the end of this month, he will go on what was once an annual golf trip to the southeastern U.S. 

“My wife and I will continue to grocery shop at the local stores and we are beginning to shop at other local stores rather than continuing to buy these things online.”

Judy Gross: “I try to be everyone’s friend”

For this Northbrook resident and long-time NSSC Shop volunteer, the pandemic has not diminished her desire to connect with people. Nor has it dimmed her optimism despite acknowledging the difficulty of isolation during the past year. 

“I really needed to get out of the house and love meeting people, talking with them. I like to think I’m a friend to everybody,” Judy said. She is known for sharing her bakery goods with fellow NSSC members and the staff. 

Judy went back to volunteer at The Shop which made a big difference in her feeling that she was moving forward. “I also play mahjong and canasta in our condominium’s hospitality room with friends.” 

Looking ahead, Judy will increase her walking outdoors and time with family and friends. 

Dave Aubuchon: Sculptors group helps ease pandemic isolation

A sculptor since his youth, Dave, a Wilmette resident, has found the NSSC sculpture studio to be an opportunity for social connection during these past several months. He has returned to the studio and has participated in a group Zoom with his fellow artists. 

During the height of the pandemic, Dave completed three 1,000-piece puzzles with his wife, Peggy, who volunteers at the House of Welcome Adult Day Services. “We frame the completed puzzles and give them away as gifts to our grandchildren.” 

Dave pointed out “we’ve taken small steps with limited visiting time with our family, but outdoor exercise has been important. I run about three miles on the Green Bay trail a few times a week. But I don’t see us returning to restaurants and movie theaters very soon.”

“It seems like there is still a lot of ways to contract the virus,” he concluded. We’re still going to be careful.”

Sharon King: Vaccination provides a new level of freedom 

“I tried keeping busy but keeping my activities to a minimum. The only shopping I did was for groceries. I went any time of the day, but I used a mask and sanitizer,” Sharon explained. 


She added, “I went walking and bike riding during the day. Listening to a book on tape helps take you a long way, especially if it's a good book.”


During the pandemic Sharon, a Glencoe resident, also kept busy by making masks—well over a thousand—that she donated to different organizations and NSSC. 

Moving forward out of the pandemic, Sharon started volunteering at NSSC last June 2020. “I am also taking attendance when they have a program at the Center. Right now, I'm working about three days a week.”


Now that she is fully vaccinated, “hopefully I can see more of my friends and we'll be able to go out and eat or see a play or go on field trips. And I can continue volunteering at my other organizations such as the Glencoe Library and The Woman's Club,” Sharon said. 


Her only advice would be to continue to stay safe, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer until the health authorities say it is safe to do without. “Keep in touch with your loved ones and your friends by calling, emailing and FaceTime.”

Ellie Gregg: A few questions, many insights

A Glenview resident, Ellie shared her thoughts about how she and her husband, Bob, plan to move forward beyond the pandemic. 

Ellie returned to NSSC last summer as a volunteer and then after it needed to close, she came back. “I also participated in the Fitness Center and joined an exercise class on Mondays and Wednesdays. I have been a volunteer in the gift shop for several years,” Ellie said. 

She reflected, “we were very careful these past many months and we are healthy. We were isolated during the winter, but things are appearing better for the summer and we are looking forward to going out to dinner. 

Ellie added that early in May, she and Bob will travel to Louisville for a memorial service for Bob’s brother who passed away from COVID-19. Fortunately, her relatives are fully vaccinated in Louisville. 

“We also have a barbecue planned for Memorial Day weekend. But we will be careful with family and keep socially distanced,” she added. 

“NSSC has played an important role for me and my husband belongs to a fitness center which gets him out of the house. One thing that helped is we own recumbent tricycles,” Ellie explained.  “They help us get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and flowers. “

For Ellie, NSSC was a “saving grace” this past year. “When folks come into the NSSC, we sit at the Welcome Desk and they get tested for temperature, screening questions and sanitize their hands. Everyone wears masks.” 

Ellie encouraged, “we just must hunker down. We must get through the pandemic and follow the science. As more friends receive the vaccine we will move out and about more and hope to leave isolation behind us.”  

Anne Essex: NSSC is her “saving grace” 

Finally, Anne Essex of Glenview believes, “My saving grace has been the North Shore Senior Center which quickly and efficiently offered a number of online exercise opportunities with professional guidance geared to seniors.” She has completed her COVID-19 vaccinations and looks forward to participating in future NSSC programs.

Anne explained, she was “blessed to participate in the Fine Arts Perspective, facilities in which to paint and sculpture. “It was the first program the NSSC was admitting attendees (along with ping-pong), both keeping us the prescribed distance apart.” 

Further reading:

You Can Be a Different Person After the Pandemic—The New York Times

Seniors Talk About Their New Life On Zoom—NPR

We Have All Hit a Wall: Social distancing can’t last forever. Here’s what should come next—The New York Times 

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