CHEHALIS, Wash. — It's done the old-fashioned way with pen and paper. A pen pal program connecting seniors to children home from school.
"Most of our seniors are already battling depression, so our main goal is to fight that off as quickly as we could." Danie Monaghan is the Director of Operations for Village Concepts, a retirement community that owns 17 different campuses across western and southwestern Washington, including Woodland Village in Chehalis, WA.
With students, like her three kids out of school and seniors sitting around unable to have visitors, they came up with a plan to invite everyone to write their own handwritten letters to the seniors.
"To make sure our seniors still felt connected, but also our kids in the neighborhood still felt connected too." Monaghan said, "I think that it's so important. It's not an e-mail, it's something that's tangible that people can touch and people can see. There's color and there's liveliness. Right now, there's not a lot of that."
Danie's three children Ben, 10, Brighton, 8 and Branson, 5 all wrote their own individual letters.
"Mine was a horse and talking about make sure to open your windows, listen to birds and I hope this thing can blow over soon and we can all get outside," Brighton said.
Branson said his had "A penguin, a person and then a person on it."
Ben drew a picture of a Peterbilt semi-truck and says his message was, "Open your doors and everyone still cares about you."
Ben adds, "I wrote my letter because the seniors can't get out of their rooms and they can't touch their families, so I decided to write my letter to show them that we still care about them even though we can't physically see them."
Danie says they have received 15-20 letters at each of their 17 facilities over the last couple of days. Each with a different message to uplift the spirits of those reading them.
"I love this!" said one of the residents after opening up the letters. Others read the message with a huge smile on their faces.
How did they respond, by writing back creating that personal connection.
Our goal is that when this has settled and the dust has settled, those kids that have made connections, with their local senior community can then finally meet in person.
"Our goal is that when this has settled and the dust has settled, those kids that have made connections, with their local senior community can then finally meet in person."
If you'd like to write your own letter, the address is:
ATTN: Pen Pals
2100 SW Woodland Circle Chehalis, WA 98532
Monaghan says they will hold the letters for a few days before giving them to the residents to prevent any germs from being transferred.