Focus On Nathalie Laitmon: On The Virtual Frontlines

Nathalie Laitmon has lived in Westport for 15 years. The writer and mom of three contracted COVID-19 at “The Party”.  One of the earliest sufferers of a mild to moderate version the illness which she describes as “still being like the worst flu feelings one has ever had at once”, Nathalie came forward on social media to share real information about her experience to try to allay community fears. She has already donated her blood plasma for researchers at Mt. Sinai Hospital working on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.   “Westport has an air that is big enough that you don’t have to come forward to say anything private, but small enough for me to feel incredible responsibility to the town. I never once thought about keeping information to myself especially since the real-time misinformation without context or hindsight is creating a cognitive dissonance with the reality we are used to experiencing.  I feel like I’m on a virtual frontline in terms of sharing information and trying to be an advocate. I’ve had a lot of very private conversations with people I will probably never speak to again just to give reassurance.  Even though I’m an extremely private person, I felt incredible responsibility to constantly check in with people who were at that party. I felt we had a collective illness and if someone pulled through that raised the spirits of everybody and made it seem it more likely that everybody would pull through.  That being said, people who were quarantined didn’t want to come forward with false hope until they cycled through all their symptoms. The backlash we saw in these Facebook groups talking about the party was a little scary, and off-putting. There is an undercurrent of fear and panic but it’s up to us to reassure one another.   It’s feels like we’re in an old-fashioned era for which you are not prepared …

Focus On Nicole Gerber: Staying AWARE of What Matters

Nicole is the co-director of AWARE CT, a volunteer run non-profit that works to make meaningful improvements in the lives of women and girls locally and worldwide. Since the quarantine, Nicole has shifted her focus away from running the organization until the social distancing ban has been lifted.   “I am now focused on ways AWARE can support our community through this crisis. We will be highlighting individuals and organizations that are working to support local businesses, first responders and people who are at greatest risk or in need.   I have had to develop a new set of routines for myself and my children. I am now spending the bulk of my day helping my children stay focused on their schoolwork and maintain a healthy schedule that balances academics with exercise and social time.   I am blown away by the number of individuals and organizations that are springing into action! I am blown away by the number of individuals and organizations that are springing into action! I truly believe that Westport will get through this crisis and will come out the other side a stronger, better, and more empathetic community.   Like everyone else, my family is struggling to define a “new normal.” We are all very human, and reacting to social distancing in our own ways. However, we have also made a group decision to view this situation as a gift. We’re really getting to know each other, learning to listen and react with empathy, using our individual strengths to help each other out in moments of weakness, and finding humor in the stressful moments. There have been more than a few of these, but we are finding our way, and a lot of laughter.  To read more of the museums long lens oral histories please visit the Westport In Focus page.