On April 22, 2021, a Zoom room followed along with mother-daughter duo, Liz and Valerie, as they led a Virtual Keiro Forum on making intricate trivets and metallic star ornaments out of ordinary clothespins. An overhead camera showed their two sets of hands working together to assemble the trivets, as Liz and Valerie took turns explaining the steps. As a pair that has been attending Keiro Forums throughout the past year, Liz and Valerie also spoke with the audience about what it has been like to attend these forums and grow into leaders themselves. Their enthusiastic attendees participated through the chat, with one commenting at the end, “It’s hard to believe something so pretty could come out of just clothespins!”

First Steps as Attendees

Liz and Valerie were one of the first attendees of the Virtual Keiro Forums that began in early April 2020. They were finding an opportunity to try new things with a supportive community during these forums. “Everyone is so nice on both sides of the camera,” Valerie commented, “and these new activities are really meaningful during the pandemic.”

The idea for Liz and Valerie to lead a Keiro forum grew organically over time as they attended more and more forums. “I have to tell you, these forums have been a learning experience,” Val chuckled. “When I first attended, I thought ‘Okay, I’ll see what it’s like, and maybe I’ll just attend a couple then leave’ — but thanks to all the interesting forums, we’ve stayed! It’s been great for my mom, too.” Liz agreed with her daughter, adding, “It’s something to look forward to.”

Learning to Lead

Once they decided to lead one, the next step for Liz and Valerie was to pick their topic and prepare. “Teaching the forum was a very exciting activity,” Liz said. “Valerie and I wanted to share this enjoyable craft — and we had time to share about the pandemic while we were doing it, so that made things more exciting.”

They chose to talk about some of the more positive aspects of the pandemic to bring an optimistic perspective on a challenging year. Valerie explained, “A lot of news that we’d hear about was all negative. So we thought, ‘We can turn this around!’ And then we thought that doing a craft would be fun too, since we’ve learned so much from the crafts and cooking and all that from the other forums.”

The two worked together with the Keiro team to prepare themselves in the weeks leading up to their forum, making sure materials were sent out to attendees and practicing their timing through Zoom rehearsals. Finally, the day came, and their forum ran as they had rehearsed. Grateful attendees logged off with their own clothespin trivets and star ornaments crafted for everyday use, holiday decorations, or gifts for loved ones. Presently, Liz and Valerie continue to attend Virtual Keiro Forums together, now with their new perspective and appreciation on the behind-the-scenes process. “We enjoy it more, and we appreciate when someone presents a forum because they go through a lot of preparation and planning,” added Liz.

Mother-Daughter Memories

Liz shared that she and Valerie were able to strengthen their connection through their first forum-leading experience. “It took me back to when I was a Brownie leader for Valerie in Girl Scouts,” Liz said. “It brought our relationship closer, and it was a fun learning experience.” Valerie nodded in agreement, noting how impressed she was by her mother’s planning for the forum. “She prepared all the examples of the craft at every stage! I think it was a nice project for both of us to do together, and as I look back, it will be a really nice memory that I’ll cherish,” she said.

A Space to Connect, No Matter the Distance

Whether as attendees or leaders, Liz and Valerie have found a source of community through the Virtual Keiro Forums. Valerie shared, “Even though we’ve only met you through a box, I feel like we know each other already. It’s so great because even though people live miles and miles away from each other, we can all come together in one place from the comfort of our own homes. I’m so happy that we were able to be a part of it — and we just appreciate it.”

Reflecting on the gradual re-opening of the public and the changes it brings, Liz said, “As we head back to normalcy, we will remember the many activities we can do without having to go out — and how special it is meeting with Keiro friends on Zoom.”