Specialized tent provides opportunity for long overdue hugs at Longmont senior living facility

Posted at 12:55 PM, Nov 15, 2020

LONGMONT, Colo. -- A five-minute hug wasn't nearly long enough for Carol Braun and her 97-year-old father, Vince Shryack. It was their first hug in about eight months and even though they were separated by a sheet of plastic, it didn't seem to matter.

"Oh gosh, that was marvelous. I just... I couldn’t hold her hard enough, she’s so sweet. It’s just wonderful," said Shryack, who is also a World War II veteran.

Shryack lives at the Katherine and Charles Hover Green Houses in Longmont. The senior living facility set up a specialized Friday afternoon allowing loved ones to embrace for the first time in months. The three-sided tent was outfitted with arm holes, allowing for safe hugs through 4mm of clear plastic.

"You can see the joy, even through the masks and the tears and just the heavy emotion, it’s just a beautiful thing to watch," said Amanda Meier, a Project Coordinator with the Conversation Project.

Meier has worked in long-term care and she's been brainstorming ways for families to connect since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. One of her colleagues saw images of a similar tent being used in another country so they decided to build one. She said the supplies probably cost $250 but the tent allows for priceless moments.

"It was just really meaningful to be able to give him a hug and hold him," said Braun. "It feels good, it feels really good."