Letters for Seniors
When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic on March 11th, the world was warned that certain populations are more at risk than others. One of these vulnerable populations is older citizens, consequently resulting in retirement homes closing their doors to visitors. It also leads to the cancellation of daily activities such as Zumba and Art classes. It is unimaginable how scary and lonely it would be to not see family and friends for the extended period of time.
That being said, people are coming together to spread positivity and compassion from a distance. Across North America, initiatives have been popping up to spread joy into an otherwise dire situation. From children and adults, letters are being written and mailed/emailed to long-term care homes.
This mailbox (pictured above) was put up at a shopping centre and encouraged hundreds of people to share words of encouragement, art, cards and more.
Letters to Seniors is one of those thoughtful initiatives happening here in Canada, based in Vaughan/Toronto. The founder, Carol, shared her story and passion with us. She explained that, upon discovering that seniors were especially vulnerable to mental health issues, came the realization that her grandfather was living alone during this time. This led her to think about the thousands of elders isolated and unable to participate in their daily activities. After these solemn thoughts, she wanted to know how she could help. She decided to create Letters To Seniors. She writes, “I came up with this initiative where we would handwrite personalized messages to seniors in retirement homes to remind them that they are not alone and that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. We hope with our letters that the residents make a new friend and that these letters bring them some positivity.” In the span of just over a couple of months, Carol and her team of over 15 hard working volunteers have hand written and delivered around 300 letters.
This picture comes from @shopcarriagecrossing (Instagram) or Carriage Crossing Mall in Collierville, Tennessee.
So how can you do the same? There are many of these initiatives based in particular cities. For example:
Ottawa, ON: Dear Pen Pal
London, ON: Meals on Wheels
Halifax, NS: Letters against Loneliness
Vaughan/Toronto, ON: Letters To Seniors
These pen pal programs were started by people with compassion and empathy. This is a short list, so if you don’t see your city, we encourage you to do the same - reach out to long term care homes in your community and ask about starting a pen pal program. Get your friends, family and school involved!
Contributors : Linda Duong, Edie Whittington