The Virtual Social Centre is the ‘secret ingredient’ behind Sharon and Dorothy’s special friendship
As an old Irish proverb goes, “a good friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have.” It’s not often that you meet someone you “instantly click with”, but that was certainly the case for Sharon and Dorothy.
These lovely women, from two different states, turned their virtual friendship into an in-person one after two years of sharing recipes online.
As luck would have it, in 2021, cooking enthusiasts Sharon from Coolangatta in Queensland and Dorothy from Bannockburn in Victoria, joined Feros Care’s Virtual Social Centre (VSC) within the same month. Sharon signed up as a volunteer and Dorothy as a participant. Both women were looking for a way to feel connected to a community during an isolating COVID winter.
The VSC is Feros Care’s unique online platform designed to help participants learn new skills, stay active, and most importantly, make friends. It’s a digital space enabling like-minded individuals to connect from the comfort of their homes, and this is precisely what happened for Sharon and Dorothy.
Cooking up a beautiful friendship
Before joining the VSC, Sharon loved to cook, travel, and work in tourism. As another year of the pandemic dragged on and most tourism ground to a halt, Sharon saw an ad to volunteer for the VSC and jumped at the opportunity to host the ‘Easy Recipes’ program.
“It was a marvellous thing,” Sharon recalls. “It was great during COVID to be helping people – and it also helped me too.”
It was in Easy Recipes that she met Dorothy, an outgoing participant who was recommended to join the VSC by her Wellbeing Manager.
“I like to get involved in the community, I always try to,” said Dorothy. Since joining the platform, Dorothy has tried sessions from exercise to singing, while continuing to meet once a week in Easy Recipes.
As the weeks moved forward, so did Sharon and Dorothy’s friendship.
To Sharon, Dorothy was a friendly face with whom she could laugh and be herself. To Dorothy, Sharon was someone outside of her immediate circle with whom she could freely share her thoughts and feelings.
“I felt very relaxed when I talked to Sharon. She’s able to do that, to make you feel accepted,” said Dorothy.
As Sharon recalls, “I was that third person who’s not close to anyone, so I was happy that I could be that person for her.”
From the screen to sharing tea
While getting to know one another, both ladies realised they were from the same country Victoria region.
“I always said to Dorothy, the next time I come and visit my mum, I’ll pop in and say hi,” said Sharon. Two years after meeting online, that’s just what happened.
Sharon arrived at Dorothy’s house full of excitement and was welcomed with a hearty “come in!”
“We weren’t strangers at all. It’s like I’d known her for so long, we were so familiar with each other,” said Sharon.
Dorothy wholeheartedly agreed, adding, “I thought ‘she’s just as she appears on the VSC.”
The two ladies spent the afternoon looking through photos, sharing stories, and chatting about international travel – a great joy in both their lives.
“We got along famously,” said Sharon. “We just talked and talked – and it was great,” added Dorothy.
Finding new friends on the VSC
Since meeting in person, both women have continued to see each other online, exchanged phone numbers, and hope to see each other in person again soon.
Sharon and Dorothy are grateful for the VSC and for its positive impact on their overall wellbeing.
On volunteering, Sharon noted, “you get more out of it than you put into it. You make all these friendships and everyone is so lovely.”
As someone who lives on their own, Dorothy added, “you’ve got the VSC and it’s like another community. It’s really interesting because people open up about their lives.”
With VSC programs such as singing, meditation, writing, cooking and more, there’s something new to try or a space to connect with familiar faces each week.
“I know people who are with Feros and don’t do it…I tell them, they should be on it!” said Dorothy.
Both ladies agree it is the perfect ‘place’ to meet and interact with others and make new friends who feel like old friends.
To find out more about the Virtual Social Centre, click here.