Silver Linings Beyond Coronavirus in Bucks County
By Gina Rubel (she/her/hers), 51, CEO, Furia Rubel Communications, Doylestown, Pennsylvania (Photo credits, Gina Rubel)
For most, the coronavirus pandemic has altered how we live. For months, we were on complete stay-at-home lockdowns. We wear masks in Pennsylvania (or at least many of us do) and continue to telework where feasible. Businesses with in-person operations must follow the Commonwealth’s “Business and Building Safety Requirements.” We continue social distancing which feels less foreign and more like a ritual. We have stopped shaking hands or blowing out candles on birthday cakes. Weddings, graduation celebrations, birthdays, and funerals all are different. We spend an incredible amount of time on video conference calls. And many make time to appreciate the silver linings beyond coronavirus.
I reached out to my network and asked them to share their personal and professional silver linings. Before I share what they had to say, I thought it only fitting to share my silver linings as well.
Silver Linings (Personal): For me, there are many. I’ve enjoyed family dinners, new-found time with our daughter who would otherwise have been at college, cleaning out every space in our home from the basement to the attic and everything in between, watching the Marvel series with our son, and more. I have changed my routines to include time every morning in the garden appreciating the flowers, fruits and vegetables (at least before the autumn frost set it), creating floral arrangements for the house on Mondays, and working to create a better workout and meditation routine (this one still has a way to go).
Silver Linings (Professional): I have witnessed a much higher degree of productivity and accountability from the Furia Rubel team. Everyone is doing their part to support our clients’ myriad incident response and pandemic response needs. We connect daily on Zoom and have gotten to know each other better. Somehow, many of the barriers that I perceived as the CEO have come down. In addition, we opened our doors to two associates (a.k.a. interns) who found themselves displaced because of graduating from college and having future plans put on hold. Devon Grasso is now a full-time employee at Furia Rubel and Luke Davis is now a Media Technology Analyst at Publicis Health Media, a healthcare agency. We have joined the Drexel University Cooperative Education program, something I took part in more than 30 years ago as a student, adding to our team’s diversity. Much of this has led to our decision to remain a virtual agency so we can open our doors to a more diverse pool of applicants across the U.S.
Here are the silver linings shared by others:
Kathy Marcino (she/her/hers), 53, Business Coaching for KMM Consulting, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Industry: Business Coaching / Consulting
Silver Lining (Personal): Although my daughter did not experience the Senior year she had longed for, having her this extra time before she leaves for college was an absolute gift. With my 5th-grade daughter homeschooling and my husband not traveling bi-monthly, I am spending quality family time and creating memories that I will cherish for a long time.
Silver Lining: (Professional): Prior to the pandemic, most of my work was conducted virtually as clients are across the country and internationally. I did not need the ramp-up time required to either purchase equipment and/or training as some of my colleagues had to do.
Caitlan McCafferty (she/her/hers), 29, Public Relations Account Director, Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., Newtown, Pennsylvania
Industry: Public Relations; Crisis Communications
Silver Lining (Personal): I have had the opportunity to spend more time learning. I have had more time to read a new book or watch a documentary. I have also had a chance to catch up with some out-of-state friends during Zoom birthday gatherings.
Silver Lining (Professional): The pandemic has caused all of us to reevaluate what is valuable in a time of crisis and how we can help others in business or in our daily lives. It made me get off autopilot in many ways. I find myself even more engaged and thoughtful in my work.
Inna Ovsepian (she/her/hers), 28, Owner/ Lead Photographer, Inna Ovsepian Photography, Southeastern Pennsylvania
Industry: Photography / Arts
Silver Linings (Personal): My silver linings are personal growth, more time to explore ways to serve clients and community better, provide value, adapt, adjust, and thrive. I finally found time to learn new skills and already started implementing them. I started exploring and building new connections in my industry and beyond.
Silver Linings: (Professional): Although it might be hard to find positivity in our current situation, stopping, sitting down, and writing all the things we are grateful for shifts one’s perspective. In the wedding world, my colleagues and I noticed that people focus more on relationships and family connections. The celebration might be smaller in size or scope, but it is more meaningful than ever. People want these days to be documented. Photography and videography are rays of sun, the silver lining, something they can look forward to, whether it is a single portrait, family session on the beach, small court wedding or engagement photo walk. I noticed people also slowed down a bit and found more joy in doing simple things and enjoying simpler living. People started ordering more albums, hanging more portraits on the walls as a daily reminder that when things get tough, family members and friends are a nonstop support system and inspiration. Also, I see people explore their creativity when it comes to changing original wedding plans. With the help of community and vendors, we bring happiness to many families. The pandemic proved that doing good work and doing it the hard way pays off.
Maria Santangelo (she/her/hers), 58, Executive Director, Pine Run Retirement Community, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Industry: Senior Living
Silver Lining (Personal): Not being able to go anywhere has allowed me to invest some extra savings into my home-livings space, making it even more pleasant to take time for myself.
Silver Lining (Professional): As the executive director Pine Run Retirement Community, I have come to realize and appreciate the people I work with even more. We became an instant family. Our staff members have been completely selfless, taking time to care for our residents and one another. As a result, when I get home at night, I play Louis Armstrong’s “What a wonderful world.” This has given me even more hope in people and in the world that we can get things done, keep each other safe, and make a difference in the lives of others. We concentrate on the change that we can effectuate in other peoples’ lives and it has been magical.
Bernard Tynes (he/him/his), Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing, Penn Community Bank, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Industry: Financial Services
Silver Lining (Personal): My personal silver lining is simple: the gift of time. The impact of the pandemic jolted the world in a way that created time and opportunities for stillness and quiet reflection. With this time, I have been able to do things I would have not otherwise considered. Just to name a few: walks with my family, taught my son to play chess, organized my neckties (even though I’m not sure I’ll need as many in the new WFH environment), and I spent quality time with my grandmother. This pandemic triggered a great re-prioritizing of my life and I am grateful.
Silver Lining (Professional): The pandemic truly placed the needs and wants of our banking customers, communities and employees at the center of everything I oversee professionally (I think most professionals claim to be customer- and employee-centric, but coronavirus put that claim to the test). It caused me to revisit and understand what Maslow meant when he described the hierarchy of human needs (particularly the levels that speak to safety and belonging). As a result, I have a renewed appreciation and pride for my work as a financial services marketer and community banker. I vividly remember when the designation of “essential worker” was established. Like many, members of my profession were scrambling to learn if we fit that category. We did. And ultimately my silver lining is that the work I do is essential to individuals, families, businesses, organizations, and the community.
Heather Truitt (she/her/hers), 36, Graphic Design Consultant, Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. and Event Planner, Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Industry: Graphic Design / Video Game and Entertainment
Silver Lining (Personal and Professional): My work and personal silver linings are closely tied together. I have been home since March 13 with our 8-year-old son. Full-time, I run TooManyGames, an annual gaming convention in Pennsylvania, which in June 2019 had more than 15,000 attendees. I also support graphic design as a consultant to Furia Rubel Communications. In March, the thought of us having to cancel the convention was difficult. As the weeks crept on, we had to make a call to cancel or postpone. We postponed.
Before the March stay-at-home order, I had purchased soapmaking supplies. It took me until mid-April to open the boxes and start to work on something. Within a week, I made everything that had come in the kits. My husband then helped me work out all the calculations and create a business plan. As a result of the cancellation of the convention, I had time to launch Planet Sprinkles. The saying is true: when one door closes another door opens. While the TooManyGames convention will happen in the future, in the meantime, I will continue to build up both brands which gives me great joy.
Laura Womack (she/her/hers), 54, Owner, Oak & Laurel Dry Goods, Co-Chair Art Show and Board Member, Phillips’ Mill Community Association, Buckingham, Pennsylvania
Industry: Textiles and Crafts
Silver Lining (Personal): Normally, I travel quite a bit to Asia. While I miss the travel, it has been nice to be home these last eight months which is a record for me. I like being home with my husband and cat, taking time to garden, and enjoying my personal surroundings.
Silver Lining (Professional): This also has given me the time I need to put into the planning of the Phillips’ Mill Art Show which will be virtual for the first time. The time spent also has given me the opportunity to strengthen relationships with artists, board members and community supporters.
About the Author: Gina Rubel is an author, blogger, host of On Record PR podcast, and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications located in Doylestown, Pa., an award-winning, full-service marketing, public relations, and crisis management agency. The company serves professional service and nonprofit clients throughout North America. Gina prides herself on creating a business environment where employees can thrive and grow as leaders while she educates professionals nationwide on how to use integrated communications tools to gain credibility, get recognized, build and retain business. For more information, visit www.furiarubel.com, follow her on Twitter at @ginarubel or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel/