In a small town like Shamong, staying connected with the community, especially during the pandemic, can be difficult.
Melissa Durham had this in mind when she created the Facebook page Spirit of Shamong in 2019. Now, she’s finding ways to bring neighbors together while staying physically apart.
“We have such a wonderful community here in Shamong, but given the geography we don’t see many neighbors unless you’re out at the soccer field or maybe run into folks at the Wawa,” she said. “I try to think of simple and fun ways that I can bring the community together.”
In April, Durham is fostering community spirit through art, by hosting a virtual gallery made up of works by Shamong residents.
The idea came through a similar event Durham hosted with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. Each Scout was invited to create works of art, then present them through a slideshow on Zoom.
The Spirit of Shamong event is open to artists of all ages, though Durham hopes it will inspire some families to create together.
“Wouldn’t it be fun to just sit around the dining room table and create art together as a family then share with the community? That would be lovely to see,” she noted.
Art can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on April 3, along with information such as the title, medium and name of the artist.
On Saturday, April 10, anyone can tune in to the Zoom presentation at 9 a.m.
The virtual event is one of several programs Durham has put together for the community since the start of the pandemic. Spirit of Shamong is responsible for the holiday light tour and has advertised trunk or treat events in the past.
Last year, Durham planned a “Spring Fling,” complete with vendors, an egg hunt and a parade, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.
“It would be challenging to put something like that together at this point in the pandemic due to guidelines and procedures,” Durham explained. “But, we can come up with virtual events to try to bring the community together, to get to know one another and to share some of our interests.”
The Spirit of Shamong Facebook page has also become a virtual gathering place. There, Durham posts family-friendly activities, local news and events and more.
“There’s a lot of community spirit here, we just don’t have a lot of the amenities that some other towns might have to gather. So, I try to bring everyone together, whether in person or online as much as possible,” Durham explained.
More information on the art show, along with guidelines for how to submit your artwork, are available @SpiritofShamong on Facebook.