It’s Week 4 since I’ve been able to visit my mom, who lives just 15 miles from me, but I don’t want to infect her 95-year-old body with this virus I could be carrying. I’ve taken instead to writing her notes.
The power of the handwritten message was known to all of us even before we were in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s just something about a personal note, no matter how short or long, delivered in your mailbox or to your doorstep. It shows that someone is thinking of you—and for longer than it takes to send a text. When my dad was alive, I watched him hold onto a card for a good long while, then pick it up again, and treasure it until the next one arrived.
In these days of cancelled celebrations and social distancing, sending a message by way of card or note is also a way of making someone’s special day—a birthday, a holiday, an anniversary—momentous despite our feelings of isolation and loss. We have Easter coming up this weekend, and since we can’t gather for our usual egg hunts and brunches and church services, it’s the perfect time to send cards to those people we would normally be seeing—especially older family members and the kids (let’s show them how special it is to receive “snail” mail!).
My friend Rochelle has taken this idea a step further. A couple of weeks ago, she initiated a social connection campaign called Hope Writers. The purpose of Hope Writers is to send handmade and handwritten letters and cards out to those who may feel especially isolated during the pandemic, people in nursing homes and assisted living whose relatives can no longer visit them—or who never had visitors to begin with.
She says, “One of the best ways to build hope in yourself is to do something kind for others, especially those in great need. There are more than 1.4 million people in long-term care facilities feeling way more isolated than the rest of us. We can help them from our kitchen table by sending a card or note. It’s Hope Out, Hope In.”
Take a look at the Hope Writers website, hopewriters2020.com or the Hope Writers facebook page created for this purpose, facebook.com/pg/hopewriters2020/
There, you will see that Rochelle has a list of long-term care facility suggestions that she updates almost daily. For readers of this newspaper, I’m thinking of picking her Vineland area facilities, such as the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home (524 Northwest Blvd., Vineland, NJ 08360), Cumberland Manor (154 Sunny Slope Dr., Bridgeton, NJ 08302), and/or Baker Place (685 S Brewster Rd., Vineland, NJ 08360). If you know someone at one of these places, you can address it to him or her. If not, just address it to “Resident,” and you will surely make someone’s day a whole lot brighter.
This would be a great activity to do with the kids. In addition to dying Easter eggs this week, why not introduce our kids to the lost art of letter-writing and card-making? And what elderly nursing home resident wouldn’t love to receive a card scrawled in crayon and decorated with stickers!
Rochelle and I invite you to visit the Hope Writers website at hopewriters2020.com or facebook page and share your stories of joining her Hope Writers campaign. You can also e-mail Hope Writers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well and keep the faith.