Private School Directory

The Porch Goes Virtual

Pooja Salhotra
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Porch on Zoom

On Wednesday evening, this group of friends who usually gather on Christy Heno’s front porch instead had a virtual hangout using Zoom. Pictured in this screenshot are: (top row, from left) Carol Tindall, Chris Cander, Heather Bradshaw and Lynne Goddard; (middle row, from left) Molly Fraser, Judy Budnik, Christy Heno and Rebecca Matthew; (bottom row, from left) Allison Redepenning and Hillery Keith. Not pictured but on the call were Cindy Lillard and Kari Greenwalt. 

For five years, Christy Heno has opened up her front porch in West U every Wednesday for an evening of drinks and light bites with her gang of close girlfriends. When coronavirus threatened to disrupt the weekly ritual, she knew she needed another way. 

“Now more than ever it’s important to keep these social connections,” says Christy, head of lower school at Presbyterian School. “It’s very hard for me because I’m a people person and I really need to see and hear people.” 

Christy’s school is using Zoom, a video conferencing tool, to hold virtual classes for its students. As a head administrator at the school, Christy needed to learn how to use the application; she decided the porch ladies were the perfect people to try out the technology out with. 

On Wednesday evening, when Christy typically sends out a text to the group of about a dozen ladies saying “the porch is open,” she instead invited them to video chat via Zoom. 

“I knew we needed a workaround,” she says. “I threw it out there and everybody was game.”

Though they at first struggled with the new technology – admonishing everyone to “turn on their video and mic!”  as soon as they joined the call – everyone did make an appearance on the call. Typically, only some of the group members are able to attend on any given night, so Christy was pleasantly surprised by the strong turnout, even joking that they should perhaps keep porch meetings on Zoom even after coronavirus passes. 

Many of the women in the group have children who are seniors in college, so much of the conversation on Wednesday night focused on how they have each helped their kids process disappointments – graduations cancelled, athletic seasons cut short and simply not having the senior year they signed up for. 

Despite the disappointments, though, the Zoom call ultimately helped everyone get away from the coronavirus-talk, even if just for an hour or two.  

“It brought some much-needed laughter,” Christy says. “Our first corona Wednesday.” 

Editor’s Note: To read more about The Porch tradition, read this article written by Buzz intern Grace Goddard.

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