‘Business as Usual’ – Even during a Pandemic

By Kim Capen, New England Region Director 

Kim Capen manning the fryer at a Medvil Cooperative Fish Fry.
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A photo of me manning the fryer at a famous Medvil Cooperative Fish Fry.

In a community as socially active as our Medvil Cooperative, Covid-19 has changed our way of interacting. Our club houses are closed to groups larger than 10 people and the mail houses are limited to one person at a time. Our famous summer fish-fries haven’t happened and our social committee, which plans nearly 30 community events per year, has been forced to cancel month after month of events. People are anxious to get back to social activities, and we’d rather have our Board meeting in person instead of over Zoom.

And yet, we’ve adapted. We’re being responsible and taking Covid-19 seriously. In Medvil, everything is still business as usual – with a few adjustments.

When I moved into the community 13 years ago, Medvil had some transparency problems – an issue we have worked hard to help correct in my time on the Board of Directors. The Saturday before each monthly Board meeting, we host a Coffeehouse session, where the Board goes over the agenda for the upcoming Board Meeting and opens up the floor for Members to address any rumors they have heard in the community. Everything and anything co-op related can come to the table and will be talked about with honesty.

During this time of social distance, we’ve moved these calls to Zoom. Prior to the coronavirus, we’d average about 30 people in attendance each month. Last month’s call had 24 people on it – so while attendance has dropped, it hasn’t been major (plus – it’s summer!). After our last Zoom session, I even heard a fellow Member proclaim, “That was a fabulous coffeehouse!”

Our Zoom Board meetings have been efficient and effective. Instructions for logging in are emailed to residents and posted on notice boards in the mail houses.

Some would say we’re being too cautious, especially as businesses, stores, and restaurants in New Hampshire return to pre-pandemic operations. But we’re doing what we can to protect ourselves – as a 55 and up community, we recognize that we are more vulnerable than most. We don’t want to rush back into social gatherings, even though they are a big part of what makes Medvil such a great place to live.

Our next challenges involve planning our annual meeting in November, and deciding if we can rent a space large enough to allow for social distancing or if we should mail ballots and set up a drive-by ballot drop off. The Board is weighing these options carefully, and I look forward to our discussions about what will work best for our cooperative.

At the end of the day, we can feel assured that the decisions we’re making at Medvil protect our community and allow business and transparency to continue as usual – even if it means more time at our computers!


Image features a clubhouse with handicap ramp, a red maple tree, and cars parked in front of the clubhouse.
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A photo of one of the clubhouses as Medvil, taken prior to Covid-19 restrictions. Now the clubhouse is limited to groups of 10 or less and social distancing is required.