Commack’s Covid Companions

Lakxshanna (Lexi), Copy Editor

In January, Juniors Shreya S. and Ryan F. created the platform “Covid Companions,” which fosters the development of long-lasting friendships by virtually connecting kids who have lost loved ones.

After watching the news and noticing that many kids were losing close family members, Shreya and Ryan decided to create a charity that would create unity amongst them. Their goal was to ensure that children knew they weren’t alone, and that they could always find support in their community. While the program initially began with only children who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19, it has expanded to include all adolescents that have lost close family members. 

“We decided to start this program for children and teenagers who have lost loved ones because we saw how so many people were losing family due to the pandemic. We wanted to help those who were feeling lost or struggling with all of the new change in their lives,” said co-founder Shreya S.

Covid Companions is a charity partnered with Bake Back America (BBA), an organization which helps to initiate community programs. Each week, a child/teenager is assigned to a volunteer that becomes their “covid companion,” a friend to spend time with. Companions meet on a weekly basis to do fun activities together like crafting, gaming, and practicing mindfulness. 

“We currently have 85 volunteers and 25 recipients- which are the children that have lost loved ones. So far, volunteers have been involved in about 30 hours of service related to direct companionship, and 15 hours of service related to other projects like fundraising. Some members also volunteer their time to do graphic design, outreach, and more,” said co-founder Ryan F. 

Many volunteers have enjoyed their experience and are glad that they’ve had the opportunity to meet new people and form new bonds with other adolescents that share similar experiences and interests.

“I’m glad I joined Covid Companions because it’s been really fun. My companion and I love [virtually] playing games together and talking to each other. If I hadn’t joined I wouldn’t have been able to meet [them], and we’ve become really good friends over the past few weeks,” said volunteer Lana M.

Ryan and Shreya developed the concept for the program in January, and began the process of partnership with BBA in February. Together, they developed the project name, logo, and managed a social media account to spread awareness. Over the past four months, their program has grown and expanded to include volunteers from a variety of areas. Their outreach online has contributed to their success. 

“We use an instagram account (@covidcompanionsbba) to update everyone on how the program is going and to reach out to new volunteers. We’ve gotten nearly 500 followers and our account has gotten shoutouts from some [mentionable influencers] like Bella Cuomo,” said Shreya.

Shreya and Ryan have also been able to give presentations on their work at different events and programs.

“We were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to speak at an Artivism event for Adelphi and Columbia University to inspire others to take action. It was an amazing experience and I’m glad that we got to share our message,” said Fenster.

If you’re interested in learning more about Covid Companions, you can check out their instagram account: @covidcompanionsbba. 

“I would encourage other people to join because you can make long-lasting friendships that you can’t find anywhere else. Being able to connect with and help other kids has been a great way for me to meet new people with the restrictions of the pandemic,” said Lana M. 🔳