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While COVID-19 has certainly limited these groups, it hasn’t stopped participants from helping others. File photo
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Regional social, service organizations adapt to COVID-19

OCEANSIDE — As social distancing guidelines remain in place, service and social organizations around North County are navigating the challenge of keeping members engaged and active from afar.

Groups like the Vista Newcomers Club and the Oceanside Pacific Kiwanis Clubs have taken to Zoom to hold their regular meetings.

“We’ve lost that camaraderie that face-to-face meetings have, but so far (Zoom) works well,” said Carolyn Brian, president of the Oceanside Pacific Kiwanis Club. “It allows us to get together even though we’re at a distance through a computer.”

Though the Kiwanis Club has currently suspended any service projects that require in-person participation, the organization has continued working with Brother Benno’s to provide PPE (personal protective equipment) and face masks to homeless and low-income families.

Brian said the club members have so far made about 1,000 disposable masks out of shop towels, a heavier duty paper towel.

Over the summer, the Oceanside Pacific Kiwanis Club received a $500 grant from its district parent organization that they used to provide food and equipment to Brother Benno’s.

Though COVID-19 has certainly limited the Kiwanis Club’s ability to physically go out into the community, it hasn’t stopped the group from helping altogether.

“We need to continue to engage with our services that we do for the community,” Brian said.

According to President Judy Beaumont, the Vista Newcomers Club is a social club that helps newer arrivals to the area meet others and become engaged in the community.

Beaumont said keeping everybody together has been a challenge since the pandemic began. At first, it was a struggle to get everyone on board with Zoom, but the group has since managed to keep most of its members and have started Zoom groups on a weekly basis.

“We have a group called Curious Gals that meets every Monday just to chat,” Beaumont said.

The Newcomers Club has also kept its book club alive via Zoom and has a thriving Mahjong group whose members play together virtually. There is also a happy hour time held once a month during which members can grab a glass of wine or whatever drink of their choice along with a snack and meet with everyone virtually.

“We’re doing as much as we can to keep everybody together,” Beaumont said.

Both the Vista Newcomers Club and the Oceanside Pacific Kiwanis Club are also offering some deals on membership fees to entice people to join and stay.

The Vista Newcomers Club cut their dues in half for members.

“We thought it was only fair,” Beaumont said.

The Kiwanis Club is currently offering $25 membership dues until the end of the year for any new members who want to join.