PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- As Arizona re-opens after a year of pandemic restrictions & lockdowns we are profiling ways it changed us for the better.

While quarantine kept us apart from a lot of our loved ones, some people found a way to use technology to do even more quality time catching- up than they ever had before.

Zoom 50th anniversary reunion

These nine ladies met on the same floor of the same dorm at Western Illinois University back in 1970.

We got an email from Kathie Specht in Scottsdale then joined in on a zoom with her nine best friends; Mary White, Rita Hardy, Deb Curi and Chris Newman from Illinois, Helen Meyers from South Carolina, Cora Sharp from Iowa, Bonnie Dowsett from Minnesota, and Michele Brinkley from Texas.

These nine ladies met on the same floor of the same dorm at Western Illinois University back in 1970.

"The first hour of my freshman year, I met these girls and we're still hanging out 50 years later, can't get rid of them, wouldn't want to," Newman said. Now, they're all spread apart across six states.

"We were all roommates at one time with somebody on the screen," Sharp said.

And from weddings through marriages, a collective 19 kids and 23 grandkids, to divorces, death, re-marriages, and countless new beginnings, they've seen one another through it all.

When the pandemic hit last year, they had to cancel their big anniversary reunion. So they came up with a Plan B.

"We had a 50th anniversary gala on zoom," Brinkley said.

That gave way to two hour weekly zoom chats, something they all say they likely never would have started otherwise. And they didn't have to worry about the technology gap that slowed down a lot of other retirees.

None of them got COVID-19.  And now that they're all vaccinated, they're moving zoom nights from Fridays to Thursdays, to make way for date nights.

"Our zoom meetings have made us closer than we've ever been, despite being further apart," Specht said.

From virtual birthday celebrations, to weekly discussion topics, they recently shared things they're most thankful for in the pandemic. They say these weekly zooms have been an important reminder, to make time for the things that are important in life.

And again, since they're all vaccinated, they're looking forward to getting back to their in person reunion this October and say they will definitely keep up with zoom nights on the other side of all this, a silver lining from the pandemic they never knew they'd come to love so much.

Nicole Crites anchors 3TV's Good Evening Arizona weekdays. Nicole also digs deep into issues affecting Arizonans.  You'll see her reports on 3TV News at 9 p.m.

Copyright 2021 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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