So rather than a standard zoom happy hour, he created a series of weekly wine-tasting zoom happy hours, each with a themed wine list curated by a sommelier from Sotheby’s Wine. The themes were simple: One week focused on California reds, another on wines under $50, and attendees swirled and sampled the wines, which were delivered to each participant beforehand, online together.
Mr. Fazio hosted a story program that families could enjoy together, utilizing performers from Drag Queen Story Hour, who offered virtual readings of stories like “Go Away Big Green Monster” and “The Kindness Book.” And he planned a trivia night, and bumped it up by bringing in quizmaster Noah Tarnow, of The Big Quiz Thing, to oversee the action.
The events have been popular with the company’s young, technology-driven New York renters. And because the virtual events are open to Gotham’s entire portfolio of buildings, attendance has been higher than typical in-person events, which are limited to the renters in the property where it takes place.
But what if residents don’t know how to log onto the computer, or don’t have access to one? That was the question at RiseBoro, a New York City nonprofit, whose portfolio includes senior centers and 3,000 units of affordable housing. With all in-person programming paused at their senior centers in March, they decided to try something they had never done before — put content online.
Designing the programming, said Sandy Christian, vice president of RiseBoro’s senior division, wasn’t the challenge. They started with yoga, Zumba, theology lectures and nutrition classes, via Zoom or YouTube. But many seniors in their network don’t have tablets or laptops, and those who did had trouble working them. Early in the lockdown, in-person IT visits were impossible.
So they went analog, calling seniors on the phone. Those who did have tablets were given free coaching sessions with computer instructors; those who didn’t were able to dial in to events via conference lines. Today, some classes, including a popular Friday virtual dance party with music like salsa, merengue and rhythm & blues, get as many as 200 participants.