Season of friendships

Kristina Abernathy

Season of friendships
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Season of friendships
Season of friendships
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Mary Ellen’s first GetSetUp class was on gratitude. It was fitting because the ceiling in her home had recently collapsed, and the class’s message was just what she needed to hear - be thankful for what you have in the present and keep things in perspective. She says, “It all goes back to having gratitude for where you are and the things you have.” 

Once she took her first class, she was hooked. As an outdoor enthusiast, she took a nature photography class and started to join the weekly photo challenge group. Her new tips and tricks for great photography paid off, and she won the ‘spring flowers’ photo challenge.

On the other side of Chicago, Rose found out about GetSetUp from a friend in her book club. Amazed at the variety of classes available, she became active in the GetSetUp community, taking cooking classes, and eventually started her own interest group for cinema enthusiasts.

For some months, neither local Chicago resident knew the other existed despite being very active on the GetSetUp platform and taking several classes a week. 

A happy surprise

These ladies first met in the Good Morning America with Norman session and were surprised to find they lived near each other in Chicago. Rose shares, 

“Led by Guide Norman, the weekday morning class is similar to morning shows on television, but the great part is that we are not watching celebrities. We are talking to each other!  Everyone gets the opportunity to discuss their weekend, their day, their plans, etc. On one call, I mentioned attending a bird-watching event at McGinnis Slough on the outskirts of Chicago.  We had seen eagles, hawks, herons, pelicans, and osprey, among other shorebirds. Mary Ellen was amazed to hear that it was near her house.  We saw each other a few more times on Norman's call and then exchanged email addresses via chat.  Soon after, we started communicating and made arrangements to meet on a nature walk at Oak Forest Heritage Preserve, another trail not too far from either of us. Mary Ellen is a natural storyteller, and we had a great time. It was a delight for us to meet each other, and a friendship was born!” 

Making new friends and keeping the old

Thanks to virtual communities, old friends can reconnect despite the distance. Mary Ellen shared GetSetUp with friends across the country, including a close friend in Florida who recently lost her husband.

“I introduced her to another woman who had recently lost her husband near her in Florida, and they started talking. Another friend of mine in Tampa has signed up too. It's really helped her by giving her a new community to be in contact with. Sometimes I come home and get a text from a friend about a class they are going to. I can then hop on to take classes with friends from all different states.”

Keeping up with friends as people move and relocate can be difficult. Still, thanks to digital technology and virtual communities like GetSetUp now people can reconnect with old friends and make new friends! 

Rose has also expanded her social circle by introducing Mary Ellen to her existing local friend group.

“I wanted to bring her into the fold of my other personal friends. I'm hoping that she'll join our brunches and our movies in the future.”

Many learners come together to make virtual friends or local friends, and that’s helping to grow an empowered community of passionate learners. Norman, the host of Good Morning America, knows of several friendships that have developed among his morning show participants, 

“It’s wonderful that people make connections that come off the screen - literally.”

Are you interested in expanding your community and creating a broader community of friends and people who share your passions? 

Watch Rose and Mary Ellen’s heartwarming story of lifelong learning, online community, and a friendship that was sparked during a pandemic and is set to thrive long after.

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Season of friendships
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