'Stranger danger' was no concern for this Windsor gathering

Three women without family in Windsor met up for the first time to talk and support each other during COVID-19.

When Margaret Rainville expanded her social circle, the first people she saw were strangers

Margaret Rainville says one day it just hit her that she was 'alone,' so she decided to reach out to others who might be feeling the same way and start a bubble with strangers. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

For three months, Windsor resident Margaret Rainville hasn't socialized with anyone but her husband. 

Two days ago, she finally expanded her social circle and the first people she met up with were...strangers. 

"I'm a very social person and I have to be around people and I have to be able to talk to people," Rainville said, adding that without being able to see her family, who live far away, she hasn't had much human contact. 

Rainville, who is originally from Vancouver Island, retired in Windsor with her husband in 2013.

"I don't get the drive-bys, I don't get the hugs...I don't get the actual face, I get Zoom or Facebook and it was really hard on me, it just slapped me in the face and said 'you're alone.'" 

In early June, the feelings were too much and Rainville posted on CareMongering Windsor-Essex — a Facebook group created to help those in need during COVID-19. 

Rainville posted about ladies' first, four-hour meet-up and said she hopes next time more will join. (Submitted by Margaret Rainville)

More than a hundred people reacted to the post and others reached out in the comments.

That was when she knew she wasn't the only one feeling this way. 

In response, someone stopped by her house for a physically-distanced visit. The action not only made Rainville feel better, but motivated her to do the same for others.

Since social gatherings expanded to 10 people, Rainville followed up on her initial post suggesting that those who don't have family in Windsor get together. 

'It was a lot of fun'

On June 16, Rainville and two other women met-up for the first time. 

They talked for four hours and ate pie, but still maintained physical-distancing rules. 

"We just talked about life and ourselves," Rainville said. "It was great and we got to forget the pandemic for those 4 hours." 

Jeanette Tapping, one of the women who agreed to join Rainville's bubble, hosted the first meet-up at her house and said she was surprised at how much she enjoyed herself. 

Jeanette Tapping is one of the women who joined Margaret Rainville's stranger social bubble. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"Donating your time to have a conversation with someone who can't really get out to socialize or doesn't have the ability to is just as important for mental health as well as taking care of the physical health," Tapping said. 

Tapping, who recently became unemployed, lives with her husband while the rest of her family lives in Niagara. 

"It was a lot of fun," she said. "Different people just make life so much more interesting."