“We had connection from day one,” said Shelley Zielinsky, director of Pine Tree Society’s Adult Support Services of their response to Covid-19.

“We were able to maintain real- time connection with people from the very start of the pandemic. We were there.”

Within days of Covid-19 shutdowns, Shelley and her team launched remote programming using video. When cases rose, the team quickly adapted, offering one-on-one and remote programming to conferencing to keep clients keep clients connected, active and engaged.

She recalled how one client in Androscoggin county who has taken part in Pine Tree Society’s community support services for nearly 40 years found himself using technology on a daily basis for the very first time.

“At first, he needed full support to access the services,” she said. “In time, he was able to trouble shoot technology issues on his own, which increased his independence and confidence.”

When small group services resumed in June, based on the connection he’d had throughout the start of the pandemic, he and his family felt confident and he returned to in-person services.

When programming resumed, there was a renewed sense of the importance of accessing the outdoors. Together, clients went on bike rides, played tennis, went on hikes and made several day-long trips to Pine Tree Camp. These activities have continued through the fall.

“We have a good flow and a strong plan,” Shelley said. “When the pandemic hit, we didn’t lose connection with people. Instead, we fostered greater connections because we were a constant. When people returned to in-person programs, we hadn’t skipped a beat.”

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