The pandemic has forced a group of seniors on Chicago's Far South Side to adapt to changing times, embracing new technology to stay connected with family, friends, and social services.
Penelope Wellington gets together with her friends every Wednesday through Zoom for about an hour to play bingo.
“The bingo is just beautiful, oh my god, that’s one thing I look towards every week and it doesn’t get here fast enough,” she says with a laugh.
The 71-year-old and her friends live at Altgeld Gardens Home and have been stuck inside since the pandemic began, but said she is grateful for the virtual connection.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
“It is something that they need to keep going for us still at home that don’t go nowhere or can’t get around you know,” she said. “Because I love it, I love it.”
Metropolitan Family Services came up with the idea for Zoom bingo nearly a year ago and today everyone got together to celebrate the anniversary of the virtual program.
“I didn’t know nothing about Zoom until the pandemic hit,” said Lawanda Williams-Bardney.
The non profit organization got all the seniors together, teaching them how to work an iPhone, an iPad, or computer so they can log on Zoom to play and connect with family.
“They're teaching us technology, like how to get on Zoom, how to get on the computer and everything else. I’m still learning,” said Williams-Bardney.
Williams-Bardney admits she’s still trying to keep up with technology, but said had it not been for the pandemic she wouldn’t have taken the initiative to learn.
“No, when stuff seems so hard I’m like 'I don’t want to learn that yet,'” she laughed.
Even though they can’t be together in the same room, they said the one thing they have feared all along, technology, has brought them even closer together during the pandemic.
“It taught me life is too short and enjoy what you got, be proud of what you got and whenever God send for you be ready for it,” said Wellington.
“I mean, take life one day at a time,” said Williams-Bardney.