Lauren (Squires) Ready (’08) believes in the instruction spelled out in 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one, as a good manager of God’s different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God.”
Ready and her husband Scott own Forever Ready Productions in Memphis, Tenn., and Chicago, Ill. Their employees include Brody Kuhar (’18), Allison Wong (’17), and Charlie Grant (’17). The production company provides video and animation services and photography to tell the stories of its nonprofit and small-business clients. Since March 16, everyone at Forever Ready has worked from home while the Readys have navigated the uncharted waters of operating a small business during a pandemic.
“For our staff, no one was laid off or had their hours reduced. Even with many projects suspended or canceled, the business was OK and could weather the storm,” Lauren said. “There was simply enough uncertainty in the world at the moment and they didn’t need it from us.”
This year’s uncertain times have provided these Duhawks with a new opportunity to use their gifts for the good of others.
“When the pandemic hit, everyone stopped doing public Masses,” Lauren said. The Readys and Kuhar are parishioners at St. Patrick Catholic Church. “We called them the week that Masses were canceled and said, ‘Do you have a plan in place for Masses to be livestreamed?’”
Initially, Forever Ready acted as a consultant for St. Patrick’s, but when the church’s first livestreaming effort didn’t work, Lauren acted quickly.
“I called Brody and I asked, ‘Can you be ready in an hour? Let’s go down and get this Mass livestreamed,’” she said. “We did that and it has turned into livestreams every week, which has escalated to us producing graphics and shooting with two cameras and making it into an experience for people watching at home that actually feels like what Mass might look like if
you were there.”
St. Patrick’s serves several hundred families and usually has about 100 people, including the Readys, at the 11 a.m. Mass – one of three services held on Sundays. The online services are livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube and have averaged around 200 viewers per week.
“The most we had was on Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday. And those viewers are people who were missing, for the first time in their lives, not being able to attend a Palm Sunday service or a Holy Week service, so they all tuned in,” Lauren said. “This hasn’t just been a production. It’s spiritual. It’s Mass. It’s just that our gift of video production and storytelling has made it look and feel like a highly produced Mass for people that are watching.”
As guidelines are relaxed for church services and other large gatherings, Lauren said her team will pull back on its level of production for the livestreaming. Forever Ready has also helped the church invest in equipment that will enable it in the future to livestream services without any help.
“The way we did this was all about meeting that immediate need of longing for connection to a community when you’re stuck at home,” Lauren said. “We put our all into it because we really wanted people to have that feeling of connection. And, personally, it was the most fulfilling part of our week because everything else had come to a screeching halt and this was a way to use the gifts that we have been given.”