Submitted by Dayna Altman, author of Mix. Melt. Mend. Owning My Story & Finding My Freedom, mental health entrepreneur and public health professional, Boston, MA

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was panicked. As someone who struggles with being “bored” or generally lacking a plan or structure, I was nervous about filling my time and staying connected in a virtual world.

That’s why I feel especially grateful that one of my friends from college introduced me to the Breakfast Club. The Breakfast Club for me quickly became more than just structure or something to put in my planner. Rather, it became a community I am proud to be part of.

At the end of my first Breakfast Club meeting, I had four LinkedIn connection invitations and two “virtual coffee meetings” set up. I quickly learned the benefit of networking in a way I hadn’t seen before. I realized that networking could go beyond finding a job—it can be used in the context of sharing skills, meeting friends and connecting with like-minded people.

Although I love the different topics and formats each Breakfast Club brings, the best part of the club is the people who show up every week. I love that I have connected with so many like-minded and supportive professionals across the country in a way I never have before.

I have also moved from becoming a Breakfast Club participant to being a guest speaker and then a program coordinator. As a speaker, I hosted a presentation on storytelling and how my life has changed as a result of sharing my own story!

I have now moved a step further to helping plan future Breakfast Club programs. I am so grateful for these experiences and to be a part of this community. There are very few things I jump out of bed for. This is one of them!