Online classes help build sense of purpose and connection  

Studies have shown that feelings of isolation and loneliness have increased over the last two years, as a result of the ongoing COVID pandemic.  To help mitigate the negative effects of these feelings, experts recommend finding new ways to connect. An article written by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, outlines several strategies for improving mental health during this stressful time. The recommendations include focusing on positive thoughts, setting priorities, and cultivating connections with others. 

Mercy Connections is a nonprofit organization that offers several programs that can foster connection, help people set and achieve goals, and nurture a sense of belonging. These programs are free and easily accessible from anywhere using the Zoom platform.  Online programs such as, “Developing Self,” “MAP! Make an Action Plan,” and “Opening to Your Life” focus on mindfulness, setting goals, and cultivating positivity through guided lessons in an open and supportive community.  

“Isolation and loneliness were factors in people’s lives long before the pandemic,” said Lisa Falcone, the executive director for Mercy Connections. “Our programs are designed to build a sense of connection, purpose, and belonging. We fill a niche for people who are looking for community and connection with others.” 

In surveys conducted at the end of programs, 100% of Mercy Connections’ program participants reported that they had increased social capital and a sense of belonging. One participant said, “I feel like I belong and am so grateful to be a part of this community.” Another participant said they received “positive, encouraging support and a vision of inspiration” and they learned “what’s important to me and what I want to bring into and have in my life.” 

Programs begin on January 19th.  All classes and workshops are free and open to adults of all genders. More details and registration information can be found online at www.mercyconnections.org/programs/schedule or by calling (802) 846-7063. 

Winter/Spring Program Schedule: 

  • Opening to Your Life (2-week Workshop) 
    Come discover honor your strengths and all that brings joy and balance to your life. In community with other participants, you will focus on your authentic self and learn core life skills that promote self-development and positive connections. Wednesday 9:30-12:30, 1/19/22 & 1/26/22 
  • Developing Self (5-week Class)
    Take a great first step on a journey to overcome life’s challenges. You will learn to reflect on experiences and re-frame their impact on your future. Participants will reconnect with core strengths and values, and gain a new sense of belonging in a supportive community. SESSION I: Monday & Wednesday 10:00am- Noon, 1/31/22 -3/2/22. SESSION II: Monday & Wednesday 10:00am- Noon, 5/23/22-6/22/22 
  • MAP! – Make an Action Plan (15 weeks, Open/rolling enrollment)
    Come make an action plan to get ahead with the life you want to lead after the pandemic with a community to support you with every step. Each week we have guest speaker presentations introducing participants to resources available in the community and how to access them to build connections.  Participants will learn about and develop their own SMART goals and then take steps to implement their plan, with assistance from the instruction team.  Some examples of resources shared include supports for mental or physical health, financial services, news and access to technology, and many more. Tuesdays 11:00-12:30, 1/25/22-6/7-22 
  • Vermont Community Leadership Training (15 weeks)
    Want to make a difference in your community? This program will provide you with leadership skills and a community of support to help with this. Our one-of-a-kind leadership and civic experience combines exciting community-based projects with leadership and self-awareness activities for all abilities. As you participate, you will gain confidence and find your voice about the issues affecting you and your family. Thursdays 1:30-4:00pm, 1/20/22-4/28/22 
  • Setting a Direction (2-week Workshop)
    In this two-day workshop, you will explore how your experiences, challenges and opportunities can move you in a direction of new possibilities. Creative activities will invite you to understand and claim your courage as you chart your life journey and practice skills that support life change. Monday 1:30-4:30pm, 2/14/22 & 2/21/22 

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Mercy Connections, founded in 2001, is an educational, values-driven social impact non-profit organization that empowers people to make significant life changes through education, mentoring, entrepreneurship training, and community.