Pen pal program created to connect lonely seniors with community members during pandemic

Coronavirus

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Keeping seniors safe from COVID-19 is a top priority as they are one of the most susceptible groups.

However, social distancing can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression — and one senior care service provider in Hampton Roads wanted to help ease that pain.

“We had been noticing the common threat we had been hearing about from our professional caregivers was that the clients we serve, the fear was coming about that they weren’t wanting to leave their homes. Or, in particular, people in assisted living facilities were lonely,” said Hollie Bradley, franchise owner of Home Instead Senior Care.

Home Instead Senior Care decided what better time than now to set up these lonely seniors with a pen pal?

The pen pal program has a little twist, as the letters are written and sent digitally to prevent the spread of germs.

Art and video messages are also welcome.

Some of the seniors need a little help with reading the letters and even writing their own, but it’s a gesture that brings a big smile.

Bradley says the pen pal program took off just a few months ago. Since then, it’s been a big hit with more than 200 pen pal connections.

Some are almost too good to be true.

“One of my favorite stories is we have a gentleman in Newport News who is retired Air Force and he’s been matched up with someone who is currently serving in the Air Force in Germany so they’re sharing stories,” Bradley said.

The process is simple. Letters are submitted through their website, vetted, and then program coordinators connect them with local seniors with common interests.

“I think it shows how we all need this to feel good. I think we’ve all been dealing with so much hardship with the toughness of the pandemic with everything that’s happening right now, so it’s nice to have something to make us feel good inside but also to know we’re making a difference in other’s lives”, Bradley smiled.

If you’re interested in becoming a pen pal, you can began that process by clicking here.


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