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A Bond That Can’t Be Broken

The bond between Julia Woodard and Samantha “Sammi” Togaila is one that even the COVID-19 pandemic could not break. 

Julia, a Residential Assistant Manager at Liberty ARC, first met Sammi two years ago when she began working in the agency’s Community Connections Day Program. Sammi was a participant in the program. A day did not go by when the two were not smiling and laughing together.

“We are close friends,” Sammi said. “We talk and do fun things together.”

As the two ladies got to know one another, they realized they were both mourning the passing of a loved one. Since then, they have had each other to lean on for strength and comfort and to have someone to talk to about each other’s losses.

“Our bond is so important to me, because I love being able to make her happy and making her day,” Julia said. “I also love being someone she can trust and talk to about anything she may have on her mind. I believe she likes having someone to relate to with her loss. I understand what she is going through.”

Last March when Liberty ARC suspended their day hab programming due to safety guidelines, Julia and Sammi had to separate as Julia was assigned to work at a different residential site. The separation was extremely difficult for both of them. That’s when Julia suggested a weekly Zoom date, where the girls were able to talk and laugh together once again.

“Being able to stay connected was very important to us because we do not want to lose the friendship we have,” Julia said. “Just because we could not see each other face-to-face did not mean we no longer wanted to be a part of each other’s lives.”

After more than a year of weekly Zoom calls, Julia and Sammi were finally reunited just recently! The two were able to have a face-to-face catch up with safety precautions still in place. They sat outside and talked, taking in the beautiful weather that day, and even played a little basketball. The girls plan on continuing their monthly visits.

“Being reunited was fantastic,” Julia said. “You could definitely see our smiles under our masks.”

“It felt good,” Sammi said of their reunion. “I was happy to see her.”