This week, Shreya and I had the pleasure of talking to three lovely ladies, Jill, Ilene, and Kaitlyn. They all work at Wingate at Sharon, the second home that we partnered with, and have received around 1,000 letters from our volunteers in the past 5 months!
Jill works with the seniors in the short-term rehab with the alert and oriented seniors.
“I work with residents who are so used to going outside and socializing with friends and family. Now that they are isolated in their rooms, they can’t do anything that they are used to doing. Your letters have meant so much to the residents. We put letter handing out days on everybody's calendar and the residents all look forward to it!” - Jill
Jill says that she takes that week’s cards, fans them out, and knocks on each of the seniors’ doors. They get to pick their letter or card, and they always squabble over who gets to go first! By now, each senior has a particular style of card that they enjoy.
“I know who will pick which letter or card. One resident, Helen, always chooses the prettiest card. Claire likes the longest letters. Florence likes long letters that also have a few decorations on them.” - Jill
Ilene works in the activities department and mostly interacts with the seniors in the memory care facility and long term care unit. She works with Kaitlyn, who is one of the incredible nurses at Wingate and Sharon. Ilene and Kaitlyn visit the seniors and read the letters and cards aloud to them. They say that this prompts longer conversations with the seniors, and the seniors really enjoy the conversations! They also pin up the letters and cards on the seniors’ bulletin boards so that they can continue to enjoy them.
“The cards really bring so much inspiration and light into this dark time. We are so shut down from the outside world… families and volunteers can’t even visit. We miss the outside energy that visitors bring. These letters have really succeeded in bringing that outside energy to our residents. The letters and cards also help take their mind off of the fact that they are stuck inside. They are just a constant stream of positivity!” - Ilene
Pre COVID-19, Ilene led scrapbooking activities with the seniors. Now that these activities are no longer happening at Wingate at Sharon, Ilene is channeling her creative energy into scrapbooking the letters cards that the seniors receive! She has also been creating a wall of cards that seniors can look at. The seniors can look at the wall or the scrapbook when they are feeling down, and they will be reminded that someone is thinking of them
“The residents really love the letters, and they are very comforting. Thank you, we really appreciate it!!” - Kaitlyn
Jill and Ilene say that the cards have also brought them a lot of joy in these difficult times.
“Letters inspire me… it is hard for us too. Their positive messages uplift me and help me keep positive.” - Illene
Right now, they are stretched thin taking care of the seniors and doing administration work.
“We don’t have as much free time as we used to before COVID. Just knowing that we have something for them to do and look forward to is really helpful. It’s an activity! You can only play trivia with them in their rooms so many times before they get sick of it. However, each letter and card is different and exciting in its own way! There is always a new story, person, and view of how someone is experiencing COVID.” - Jill
Each Monday, Jill is always excited to find the pile of mail on her desk. She enjoys sifting through and seeing where the mail comes from.
“I want to thank you so much. We have so many letters coming from all over the country.” - Ilene
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Thank you for spreading joy and helping us fight senior loneliness!