Having been confined to their homes as a result of the recent “safer-at-home” order, an increasing number of residents are beginning to yearn for socialization.

Usually at this time of the month, Ocean Park Association members are preparing for one of their monthly gatherings — but unlike the thousands who flocked to the beaches and trails this weekend — many of Ocean Park’s residents have remained at home in an effort to avoid COVID-19.

OPA’s president Marc Morgenstern said Monday that he feels the recent pandemic will cause a massive uptick in the number of Westsiders who are feeling lonely or disconnected, “and I think those are only a few of the side effects that will come out and develop over the next couple of months as this pandemic becomes more severe.”

Morgenstern believes neighborhood organizations serve a vital role in connecting others, “because we tend to people’s heads and hearts. And that’s something that only neighbors can do for other neighbors.”

Thanks to its relationship with local merchants, particularly on Main Street, the association regularly holds mixers at various establishments in the area.

“We sort of view those (meetings) as an essential part of our community,” Morgenstern said. “And it’s really amazing when you’re cut off from that, that you really recognize that this sort of interaction of life on our streets is something you miss so much.”

Thanks to neighbor Will Burrington, the local neighborhood association has found a way to connect online and the group intends to hold its first “Community Connector” meeting this Wednesday at noon via Zoom.

More information can be found at http://oceanparkassociation.org, Morgenstern said, adding, he hopes the meeting will allow others the opportunity to reconnect and hear from neighbors who might need help.

“We have to do whatever we can to try and keep the local community strong because we’re all under so much stress,” Morgenstern said, mentioning residents will have opportunities to share coping mechanisms for being stuck in the house.

“We’re not allowed to interact on the street and run into each other at the library, or at one of the restaurants during our physical meetings but we’re a very tight community here in Ocean Park and we pride ourselves on looking out for each other,” Morgenstern said. “So we’re going to try this, and if it works on Wednesday — and we think it will — we’ll make this a regular weekly event through this crisis.”

brennon@smdp.com