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Ch-Ch—Changes: How MREC Faced the Pandemic & Came Through it Stronger

Ch-Ch—Changes: How MREC Faced the Pandemic & Came Through it Stronger

Written by Marriage & Relationship Education Center

Written by Amy Gilford, MREC Executive Director

This article originally appeared here.

Ch-Ch–Changes, Turn and Face The Strange…There isn’t another song quite like David Bowie’s ‘Changes’ that confronts us with the certainties and unknowns of life. Since March of 2020, it seems like the changes have been swift, and often unexpected.

As the area’s voice for healthy marriages and families, we often get asked about relationship trends we see, particularly due to COVID, so we do try to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s happening nationally as well as locally.

To be honest, though, none of these trends has changed our mission, in fact, all the “strange fascinations” have actually encouraged us to be even more intentional and resourceful in our efforts to help strengthen marriages and families.

New Ways To Provide Our Classes

We found new ways to provide our classes with a hybrid effort: small-group or in-person meetings, combined with virtual presentations and meetings. This format actually gives the couples more time to process our on-demand class material before we meet, ensuring that we can go even deeper in our content and Q and A’s when we’re together. 

In short, it’s been more valuable in several ways.

Using a little creativity and ingenuity we offered some outdoor events as well.  One of my favorites was the Smokin’ Hot date night, an evening bonfire, and fun relationship-based activities, just for couples (probably not what you were thinking at first, right?)

Close on its heels was Mission Possible, a special evening for families, held in partnership with Rising Above Addictions.

Virtual Coaching Options

Virtual coaching options helped us provide a whole new way to serve couples who found themselves under stress during the pandemic as many had to balance work, finances, and teaching their children at home. Thankfully, that will be behind us for the fall 2021 school year. But the virtual coaching option will remain as a service.

Continuing to serve Carroll County Public School students with relationship education was one of our biggest hurdles for numerous reasons. Since no visitors were allowed in the schools this year, our team shifted and worked tirelessly to create interactive, in-person classes for a virtual classroom.

Without a doubt, this was one of the greatest challenges we’d encountered even though all of us are computer literate.

Yet the results were amazing and it was so rewarding to see the students actively participating using Google slides and the Peardeck app. 90% of students indicated that our presentation helped them better understand how to build a healthy relationship. 

They used descriptors like — Helpful, amazing, reliable, educational, informative, fun, and interactive.  It was fun for us, too! Of course, we look forward to next year when we can see smiling faces again instead of talking to a screen full of Skittles.

Coming This Summer

This summer we’re excited to announce that in honor of our founders’ 60th wedding anniversary, the board of directors has launched the Bill & Anne McKenna Legacy Fund.

We invite the community to support the effort which will ensure the long-term viability of MREC. To learn more, please visit mrecenter.org.