“We have not been allowed to see her in person since quarantine started last March. We have tried window visits, using a phone to chat but she gets agitated because she cannot understand why we cannot come in and she cannot go out. We also do Facetime calls, but it isn’t the same. So, I thought it would be nice to write letters to residents, as many of them have also not been allowed to see loved ones.”
Karpinsky said the students were pretty enthusiastic about the project, but for a few students she had to explain what a nursing home was, why some families are unable to take care of older or ill family members, and why a nursing home may be needed.
“It was a real eye-opener for them. Because of their background and culture, they tend to keep family members home with multiple generations in the same household.”
Jennifer Gibbs, executive director at St. Leonard’s, said she knew the residents would appreciate the letters because so much in life is digital now. She said when the governor shut down all visitation in March, hand-written letters had become a cherished gift, especially from the younger generation.
“This was a very kind gesture and the letters were thoughtful and heartfelt. Our residents appreciated hand-written letters. We have had a very difficult year due to the pandemic. Centerville is bright and cheerful, and it was a wonderful project to connect the young and older adult citizens of Centerville.”
Gibbs said some residents posted their letters on their doors and others shared with their neighbors during Happy Hour.
Other than learning the mechanics of letter-writing, Karpinsky said she hoped the children would learn to empathize with others who are going through some of the same things that they are.
“I wanted students to think about others and to be able to ‘share their love’ in a way that was accessible to them as a remote student and appropriate for the pandemic situation, while hopefully raising the spirits of the residents.”