Volunteer Spotlight: Ellie
Welcome back to the blog! This week, we are hearing from Ellie, a Letters Against Isolation volunteer. In her blogpost, Ellie writes about how she heard about LAI, why the mission of LAI is so important to her, and her tips for writing a spectacular card!
A little bit about myself – I live in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, a suburb southwest of Philadelphia. I am retired now and live in a 55 and over condominium. I have one daughter, who lives in Washington, DC. After I retired, I took care of my elderly father in my home for about five years.
I enjoy writing letters to seniors in retirement communities for several reasons.
For one, I like to write letters. I first became a pen pal when I was in fourth grade and wrote to a girl in Germany. We continued to write until I was about 30 years old. I met her in Germany and we both went on to get married and have a child, all the while still communicating. I communicated in French once I had a few years of the language in high school. One day, she just stopped writing but her last letter to me let me know her husband had a very serious car accident. I often wonder what happened. Over the years, I wrote letters to service men in Vietnam and Desert Storm. I always enjoyed writing to them and many times received letters back. When I was a young teen, I wrote to my neighbor’s nephew in Vietnam and he sent me a few addresses of servicemen who did not receive letters so I started writing to them also. It was very fulfilling to me to know I could do one small thing for them in comparison to what they were doing for us.
I have a very soft spot for seniors (although I turned 65 this month so am officially a senior myself). My father, who passed away at 96, lived with me for a number of years and spent the last two years of his life in a skilled nursing facility. I became very attached to many of the residents there and would witness lonely seniors who never had visitors and looked forward to any communication with outsiders. When I read about Letters Against Isolation, I thought about how much some of those seniors in that facility would have benefited from that.
I don’t have a favorite topic to write about but of course I only write about positive things. I do like to write about animals. My brother has a small farm with many animals so sometimes talk about that, and in my last group of letters, I sent photos of my daughter’s new puppy (who I happen to think is absolutely adorable). I like to ask about things they like to do and share a little about my hobbies of crocheting, sewing, felting, etc. I usually find some interesting topics, to bring up but always keep it light.
When I write to seniors, I like to bring up something about their city. I have traveled a lot over my lifetime, and if I have not been to their city, I Google and read about it somewhat so I can mention the interesting facts I have learned about their place of living.
I like to include riddles or interesting facts but keep them pretty simple. I have bought note cards that you color to give it a more personal touch. I also purchased a roll of stickers for the envelopes that say “Happy Mail Inside”. I picked up some Autumn note cards and have some ready for the holiday season also.
My goal is to just brighten someone’s day. If I can even put a smile on their face for just one minute, it makes it all worthwhile.
Thank you Ellie for sharing your story with the LAI community!
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