A complete turnaround in the toughest of times: Virtual gatherings lift up LADD community member

Josh Meyer sits at desk while attending LADD Live on his computer.
Josh Meyer attends LADD Live, a virtual event taking place each week day.

Josh Meyer is a busy guy. A typical Monday for him starts with LADD’s Community Connections Program (CCP), a program that strengthens life skills and builds confidence through experiences in the community. CCP is followed by one of Josh’s favorite pastimes: bowling. Tuesdays are spent working at Jason’s Deli. On Wednesdays, he takes classes at The TALL Institute. For the rest of the week, he splits his time between CCP, work and hanging out with friends on the weekends.

But when society shut down in mid-March, Josh’s life suddenly turned upside down. He was sick with pneumonia in late February and had finally recuperated when everything around him closed. He wouldn’t soon be returning to CCP outings, classes, work or weekends with friends. Every opportunity to interact with his community was pulled out from under him; his routine disappeared and, in its place, came worry, seclusion and confusion.

“He was really down in the dumps,” said Josh’s mom, Beth Meyer. “He would ask, ‘When can I go back to work?’ ‘When can I go back to school?’ We would drive up and down the highway listening to music, but otherwise it was a pretty gloomy time.”

A couple of weeks later, LADD’s CCP Manager Faith Maynard told Josh, who has been part of CCP for around eight years, about LADD Live, a new virtual event that would take place each week day afternoon during the pandemic. Individuals supported by LADD and staff members could connect, see each other’s faces and tune-in to an activity, discussion topic or special guest. 

“When Faith told us about LADD Live, it was like a miracle,” Beth said. “I just can’t even explain the smile and attitude he had from it.”

Beth noticed a significant difference in Josh’s personality after getting on LADD Live the first few times. Like night and day, she says his outlook completely changed.

At first, he was quiet, getting used to the frenzy of a 40+ person Zoom meeting. But Beth says in recent weeks he’s become a “jabber jaw.” As a movie lover, he especially loved a recent LADD Live with film critic and OTR International Film Festival’s film programmer TT Stern-Enzi.

“He comes to the dinner table and is so excited to tell us about what people are doing, who he saw and what they’re going to do the next day.”

“My favorite part is being with people I care about,” Josh said.

After finding a sense of connection and routine on LADD Live, Josh also began attending our virtual Fit For Life classes and spending a half hour on the treadmill and lifting weights every day. He didn’t want to miss an opportunity, so he pulled out a calendar and marked every event.

Now, his questions about returning to work or school have been replaced with asking his mom to get off the computer so he can get on Zoom.

“We’re constantly sharing the computer, but it’s a good problem to have,” Beth said.

With society and LADD slowly reopening, Josh has recently started to get back into the community with small CCP outings, complete with extra health and safety precautions following state and local guidance. He gets home around 1 p.m., hops on the computer at 2 p.m. for LADD Live and is on Fit For Life at 4 p.m. His calendar is starting to fill up, just the way he prefers.