Will you be my Christmas pen pal? It's a small request that's had a big response.
"You can tell that when the residents open up one of the letters, they get so happy. You can see that they're reminded that people out there still care for them and no one has forgotten about them," said Countryside Manor of Bristol Dementia Program Coordinator Rachael Waskiewicz.
Countryside Manor of Bristol posted on Facebook this week saying that residents are missing their families more than ever. Staff wanted to see if the community would be interested in sending a card or letter to one or several residents. Waskiewicz said many of the nursing home residents loved the idea and were happy to pose for a photo with their name and the address of the facility.
"There were so many of them that were saying, 'yes, I really want to do this. Make sure that they know that I have beat COVID and that I am strong and I survived,’" said Waskiewicz.
The response they've received was more than they could have hoped for. More than 2,000 people have shared the post and hundreds have liked and commented from communities in Connecticut and beyond.
Over the last two days, they've received dozens of letters and even some unexpected gifts. Waskiewicz hopes that it inspires people to continue reaching out.
“There are tons of residents that would be more than willing to receive cards as well. We hope that this inspires other facilities to do something of that manner as well. But other facilities will accept cards no matter what, without having to post something online,” said Waskiewicz. "Please feel free to send a card to whatever nursing home of your choosing, and they will love it as much as we do.”
With very limited visitations allowed due to safety precautions, the holidays certainly won't be the same this year for many nursing homes. But each card and letter that arrives brings people closer, and that's what the season is all about.
"We don't want people to forget all the love and joy that still needs to be spread and even more during this time. And this was a really easy way to get that message out there, and it shows how the community still is together," said Waskiewicz.
You can mail letters and cards to 1660 Stafford Ave, Bristol, CT, 06010. You can choose one resident to send a card to or multiple residents. You can also put "all residents" on the envelope and the staff will "pick a resident who we believe needs some holiday cheer."
For the names of the residents participating and to see the Facebook post, you can head to Countryside Manor of Bristol's Facebook page here.