The Bright Side of Uncertain Times

The Christensen Family

A woman asked me on a Facebook group page what my COVID-19 experience has been like. A moment of reflection led me to nail down this lesson: Don’t dwell on the things I can’t control and do my utmost to create ideal situations with the things that I can. Golden moments have materialized in conjunction with the trying times. It seems like the residents of Syracuse are absolutely making the best out of the things they can control.

One example is Marjean Jolley, who is a local photographer. She started going to people’s homes to take family photos after families began to shelter in place. She is the woman behind the camera for most of the Syracuse families on the cover of the magazine! Marjean is a part of a photographer Facebook group, and this idea for front porch portraits began circling around once quarantine began to isolate families. Marjean loves what she does, and she felt she could use her talent as a way to lift others up. “It creates a little bit of fun and joy,” she said, and that seems to be something valuable in these times. She has a lens that allows her to take family photos from the road, and she loves chatting with families while maintaining adequate distance between them. “It’s so fun catching families in their joy and having fun.” Having a camera in hand is therapy for her; she has been doing these portraits for free and emailing families the galleries of the photos she takes.

Facebook groups were a huge strength to the Syracuse community, even before the corona virus pandemic effected so many lives. But with the change in circumstances, residents have really turned to digital resources to take care of each other. Melanie Cosens said, “I love seeing all of the random acts of kindness from people, like donating services, talents, and reaching out to help people who may be immune challenged and should stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Heather Munoz has reached out to our family, and we feel we have made a new friend.” Antonia Moore has loved seeing peoples’ willingness to help others who cannot go out. “We can’t leave, and my friend has been more than willing to help where she can. I’ve needed cleaning supplies, and she dropped some at our door… We have needed milk, she has been more than willing to ask if she could get it. Thank you, Irma Lawrence! You are a wonderful person!”

Tracy Silva is an administrator on a community group page called Syracuse Utah Citizens where people like Antonia and Irma get connected. Tracy has seen so many good things come from the page. ”Seeing how people are coming out to help their fellow citizens has been amazing!” People post on the page that they are going to the store and ask if anyone needs anything while they are there. Some share who has toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks, and things in stock that are needed. She has also seen people ask for things they need and others willingly give it. Many people are making masks and giving them away for free.

If you haven’t joined already, search for Syracuse Utah groups on Facebook and you’ll see several different groups you can join. It’s a great way to connect with your neighbors. If you have a need, ask! If you can help in any way, offer! If you see something good happening in your area, share! As I’ve interacted and seen others interact in these groups, I realized that this is what it means to love our neighbor. The good that comes from these groups will extend beyond the COVID-19 situation.

Social media has been a good way to connect with neighbors and has been a source of a lot of fun ideas. One mom said she has found a lot of ideas on social media and builds on them. She and her family have started having themed days. They had a Hawaii day, where they learned the Hula on YouTube, had fruit, smoothies, and Hawaiian haystacks; they got in their swim suits and laid beach towels on the carpet and watched Lilo and Stitch for a “movie on the beach.” They’ve had a camping day where they roasted hot dogs and s’mores and a Disney Day where they made corn dogs and churros and took rides on virtual reality rollercoasters. Her daughter will be missing her 3rd grade economics fair, so, instead, they will have an economics day and set up a little market where they will buy and sell from their living room.

The community has shown its creativity, given the new parameters to live in other ways. Community members participated in egg hunts or teddy bear hunts, where families hid Easter eggs or teddybears around their property that are visible from the road. Parents and children could then walk or drive by and try to find the hidden items. Katherine Kidd Chase and her family participated in this in April. She said she loved watching the kids smile as they walked past their house when they saw the Easter eggs hanging in the trees and decorated paper eggs in the windows. One neighborhood took to the streets with their chalk. People used their artistic talents to create sidewalk artwork their neighbors could enjoy… at least until the rain or sprinklers descended.

Katherine Kidd Chase also said sleeping in is one of the perks of quarantine. Her kids are enjoying having more time at home with baby sister who has learned to crawl since they started social distancing. Calena Miller said her kids are eating healthier since they have warm lunches and more time to cook. Stacy Salbato said “My house projects are getting done.” Hallie Miller homeschooled her children before quarantine but has been finishing up some projects since they can’t go to the park every day like they used to. “My yard is looking good for April,” said Jeff Nielson. For one family, a daughter decided to give up her room to her dad so he could have a space where he could work from home. She seemed very happy to share a bedroom to make life a little easier for her dad. Teresa Perkins has noticed she is saving money by not shopping. Jason Meling said “All of us [are] learning we can do without things and get by just fine.”

More positives that have come from quarantine are the many online courses that are available for free for the time being. If you go to,, or, there are seemingly endless options for growth. There have been some very funny memes online about different transformations that will take place because of corona quarantine. One of them showed before and after photos of dilapidated backyards that magically changed into a lush landscape of gardening perfection. I can’t promise what will actually happen from your labors in the garden, but there is an introductory gardening course you can take through Oregon State University that could probably teach you a thing or two. Personally, I just finished a short little course on stop motion, and I loved it. If you find Trisha Zemp on instagram and follow her directions in her “stop motion KIDS CAMP” post, she will give you access to the course for free! Look for my stop motion videos on social media this month when we share some of the May recipes! The app I used is called Stop Motion, just in case you or your kids want to give it a try. We would love if you tagged us on social media so we could share your creations with the community!

Our hearts go out to those who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus. Let’s be real, there are a lot of terrible things that have come along with it. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, as of May 1, there have been 56,245 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the United States. People who ultimately recover from the virus experience fevers, coughs, and poor health. Schools have shut down, businesses have closed, employees have been sent home, and everything seems to be canceled! Could we get a refund for April, please? I’m sure we could go on, but to sum it up in a few words… it has been a trying time. However, some amazing things have come from social distancing and spending more time at home. Focusing on the positive things happening within our communities has really lifted my soul, and I hope it has done the same for you!

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