With a growing number of people who have stepped into leadership, dinner groups are more accessible than ever. There are dinner groups for women, men, couples, families, middle school and high school students. There are groups that meet during the evenings, mornings and at lunchtime.
But for some, being able to meet each week still proves difficult.
As a student at Stevens Institute of Technology, Athina’s class and study schedule often prevented her from being able to attend dinner group on a weekly basis.
“Every minute counts when you are a student, and after factoring in the commuting time to get to the meeting location and to come back, I realized it would cut into my study time or sometimes it was my actual class schedule that would interfere,” she said.
So last year, Athina started a dinner group for people who found themselves in the same situation. The group meets online, through a video conferencing app called Zoom. The app allows each person to identify who is talking, while simulating the experience of everyone being in the same room.
Having attended other dinner groups in the past, Athina admits most people experience a quicker connection when meeting in person. For example, if someone is sharing something that makes them emotional, another member could put their arm around them. But there is still a connection being made online, she says, and the group works for individuals who otherwise would not be able to participate each week.
And there are plenty of circumstances that might make an online group a good fit.
“Someone who travels quite often now has the ability to call in from wherever they are around the world,” Athina said. “Someone with a babysitting issue, especially if you are a single parent, can call in from home and participate. There is also the likelihood of a disability that may not make it possible for someone to attend our weekly services, people that may only be able to watch services via Livestream.”
In the end, says Athina, there isn’t a right group or a wrong group. The most important thing is to be part of a dinner group, and to choose the one that allows you to be most consistent.
For more information about dinner groups or to sign up for one, visit hobokengrace.com/dinnergroups. Interested in starting your own group or have additional questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.