A few weeks ago, we spoke to Florence, a resident at the Wingate Residences at Haverhill and Michelle, the Residences’ Activities Director.
Before we get started, I have to thank Michelle, she is our connection to the Residences, and coordinated our interviews with Florence and Hy. She is doing a great deal to keep morale high in the Residences, and it is clear just how much the residents appreciate her hard work.
Florence is just the sweetest lady! She has got four sons who live fairly close to home. They have been wonderful at calling throughout the quarantine precautions to mitigate the virus. She still misses them a lot right now. Receiving letters has brought Florence a lot of joy.
Florence told us a lot about one particular letter she received when she was a girl. A boy called Michael sent her a love letter from the UK. That letter meant a lot to Florence, and she regretted losing track of it. She holds the letters that you, volunteers, have sent just as dearly as that love letter. Florence remarked a few times during our conversation that she would always keep these letters close.
Michelle and Florence showed me all the letters that Florence had received. One was a beautiful peacock made of construction paper. This bird holds a lot of significance for the two women. They felt that it is a symbol that reminds people to be proud and confident. They also read a card that said “Roses are red, violets are blue. You make the world better for being you!” and showed me a poem that someone had copied in another letter. To the volunteers who wrote to Florence, she would like to say
“Thank you so very much! They really made my day. I enjoy them, I keep them, and I read them every day. Stay safe and be positive.”
It was so clear how much time Florence had spent with these letters, reading and re-reading them. She and Michelle agreed that they felt like writing letters was equally impactful for volunteers. They felt that volunteers are also isolated, so writing letters helps them feel connected too. They also said that volunteers think very deeply about the recipient, and what they’re writing to them. They think that volunteers often write the words that they need to hear right now. I think I agree with them!
At the end of our interview, Florence said “I love you”, and blew a kiss. I have held this with me since then. It is a reminder of how deeply a letter can move its recipient. It is also a reminder of how important and easy it is to love one another especially during tough times.
Since our interview, Florence has started writing letters! While she does not normally like to write letters, she was inspired by the joy and happiness that our volunteers' letters bring. She hoped to share that with a friend of hers.