(WYTV) – As if the past 8 months haven’t been isolating enough for residents in nursing homes
and long-term care facilities, having restricted visitations through the holidays is even
To make things a little more merry and bright, Mercy Health thought of a creative way
to match up residents with volunteers in a pen pal program.
The pandemic has been really hard for residents at Assumption Village in North Lima.
“Because visitation is so restricted, they’re just so socially isolated, and they’re truly suffering emotionally–many of them,” said Rita Havas, manager of volunteer services at Mercy Health in Youngstown.
Mercy Health leaders worked together to start what they call ‘Pen Pal Partnerships’ between residents and volunteers.
“They feel like they have a new friend, which is nice because a lot of them feel like they’ve just been totally shut off from the world,” said Kim Culver, manager of activities at Assumption Village.
Residents at Assumption Village and at Humility House in Austintown were each paired up with someone to exchange letters with.
“With their consent, we took their pictures. We did little information sheets about them, like their birthday, without giving away their year, where they were born, where they graduated, things that they like,” Culver said. “This is kind of a way to introduce them to people in the community without taking them into the community.”
Culver says its really been a highlight for the residents.
“They feel like people know they exist. They know they’re here and they want to reach out to them,” Culver said.
But Havas says its been just as much of a delight for the volunteers.
“She said I just want to tell you I think we’re going to get more out of this program or as much out of it as the residents are,” Havas said. “This is really allowing them to continue to be engaged and of service, so they love it.”
Now the two are asking that the public get involved to spread even more cheer.
You won’t be paired up with a specific pen pal, but any letters or cards will be given out to residents.
“Holiday cards, different things like that, like ‘Hi, my name is so-and-so, just sending out a nice hi, just letting you know we’re all thinking about you. We all love you,'” Culver said.
“And especially this time of year. It will make them so happy,” Havas said.
Anyone wanting to send holiday cards to the homes can send them to Assumption Village,
9800 Market St., North Lima, Ohio 44452, or to Humility House, 755 Ohltown Rd., Austintown, Ohio 44515.