Everyone talks about the new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic – for many, this means video chats, working from home, wearing masks everywhere else you go, juggling working with kiddos’ distance learning, and more. Now pen pals can be added to the list.
For residents at Avamere at Lexington in Nebraska and Avamere at Park Place in Oregon, this also meant making new friends.
Finding pen pals
It all started with a spark of inspiration from Gale Parsons, Life Enrichment Director with Avamere at Park Place. With activities limited, she started to brainstorm ways for her residents to enjoy the day-to-day at Avamere.
The pen pal idea was born. She reached out to fellow Life Enrichment Director, Tammie Hinrichs with Avamere at Lexington. She chose this community because it was geographically the furthest Avamere community from Avamere at Park Place.
Ten of Avamere at Park Place’s residents sent the first letters, and Tammie thoughtfully matched up pen pals based on similar interests.
Among the pen pal matches were a resident who has never read and one who loves to read, and one who was a secretary at a church matched with someone who is involved in church.
“They are thrilled with their pals,” Gale said about her residents.
Highlight of the day
Receiving pen pal letters is the highlight of the residents’ days at Avamere at Park Place. In fact, mail days also give these residents special one-on-one time with their life enrichment director.
Gale and Tammie help some of their residents read and write their letters. In fact, one of the pen pals at Avamere at Lexington is blind, and Tammie enjoys helping her read and write the letters.
Among topics the residents write about include what Avamere activities they have during COVID-19, getting to know about the other person’s likes and family, and during the Oregon fires, the Avamere at Lexington residents reached out to ask how they were doing.
One pen pal group uses the same envelope, crossing out each other’s names each time and re-writing their pal’s name on the front, leaving lines of names scratched out.
Pen pals at both Avamere senior communities adore this special activity that connects them to fellow Avamere residents.
“They love it,” Tammie shared. “When bring them their letters, they’re always excited to open them up.”
Gale held a social-distanced activity where the pen pals introduced their pals and what they find enjoyable and interesting about them. This opportunity to share inspired fellow residents about what to write to their pals.
“Hearing what other people are talking about has opened up a new world for them,” Gale expressed. “I’m glad they have taken it to hear and are enjoying it.”
More Avamere fun
The pen pal program started in July 2020, and both Tammie and Gale plan to continue the activity as long as the residents are interested.
Avamere residents are enjoying the day-to-day. Keep up with more fun stories and happenings on Facebook!