North Carolina-based military families are using a mix of art and activities to connect with neighbors during social distancing requirements.
Army spouse Tiffany Marquis, who was named the 2020 Armed Forces Insurance Fort Bragg Spouse of the Year, used daily walks through her neighborhood for exercise and for a break from her four walls. Her community quickly adopted ways to lift spirits after stay-at-home orders were in place, including a teddy bear hunt and sidewalk stained glass art trends. As a mom of two teenage boys, she was inspired by what she was seeing and wanted to lean on her own skills to cheer up neighbors.
“All of a sudden the neighborhood was teeming with families. Once the hustle and bustle of life slowed, our families were brought back together again. It has been so beautiful to watch it come alive,” she said about the joy of finding positivity in an otherwise grim situation.
“Our neighborhood was already a welcoming community; you know your neighbors and they know not only you but your kids’ names too. Right now, more than ever, we need to do what we can to check in on one another,” Marquis said.
Her community has a Facebook group where members can exchange information and ideas. It was through this platform that over 25 families began to band together to take the new game of lawn “I spy” to a whole new level.
“Around Easter, we got together and numbered the houses and eggs that were participating in a virtual egg hunt for the kids. The kids were on a mission to find all of the eggs, and by numbering them, we knew exactly what to look for,” she said.
The spirit of the community was coming together in a big way. Families were not only participating but showing signs of dedication to creating what Marquis describes as a virtual art gallery.
“After the rain, you’d see families out the very next day re-chalking the stained glass, they’re really in it,” she said.
As a self-described crafter, Marquis began to look into other options for keeping the momentum of a gallery-esque neighborhood going.
“I looked at some plywood we had and thought, I could get my husband’s company to cut out an old pickup truck outline. With some paint, I could turn it into a photo op in my yard, similar to the holiday décor I already do,” she said.
The plan was a smashing success. Marquis said her two boys love watching friends, old and new, come up to the lawn with smiles. In the coming weeks, she plans to build and donate other yard signs for others to paint, creating yet another walk and find opportunity.
What creative ideas have you seen in your area? Share your photos below.