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Caring and Connecting
Bringing Hope to Seniors in an Era of Isolation

Though the COVID 19 virus may separate us physically, many are still finding ways to connect socially through technology. Sadly, some of our most vulnerable populations and those we are striving to protect—our precious seniors—do not have the same avenues to connect with the outside world in a meaningful way.

Fort Erie local Charmaine Holland has launched a campaign called 'Caring and Connecting Pen Pal Initiative'. Charmaine has teamed up with her good friend Aliza Prodaniuk and together they are coordinating a compassionate initiative aimed at connecting willing individuals with isolated populations in long term care facilities. Last week an article was published by Niagara This Week whereby Charmaine was quoted to say that "Long-term care homes are on lockdown right now. People can’t visit their loved ones, and residents can’t even eat in dining rooms where they are the most social with other residents”. 

The Pen Pal initiative will allow people to send letters to seniors living in retirement and long-term care homes in Niagara. The best part is, these letters can be written from the comfort of your home without ever having to leave the house. Charmaine and Aliza are emailing all letters directly to the recreational coordinator at retirement homes. The coordinators print them off and distribute them to the residents.
Charmaine also commented in her interview with Niagara This Week that she is hoping others will want to help run the projects in their own communities....... Enter The City of Niagara Falls.

I reached out to Charmaine and Aliza offering our help. They were delighted that Niagara Falls wanted to be a part of this initiative. It is my vision that we will have Coronation members write letters to seniors in our local retirement homes in Niagara Falls. I have also reached out to Elementary schools to ask if students will also write letters. This will all be coordinated by Charmaine and Aliza.
Let’s go over some quick guidelines and suggestions for your letter writing journey! ☺

***NOTE: As of right now, these letters will likely be one-way, which means you will not receive a reply. However, there may be an opportunity to get a pen pal who can reply in the future. If you are interested in this option, please let Charmaine know!

Considerations for your letter 
Content:
  •  You will address your letter to an unnamed senior (eg. “Dear friend,” or “Hello there!”)
  •  You can…
    • Introduce yourself! You can include your first name (and last initial), but try to avoid using your last name and any identifiers (address, etc.).
    • Talk about your interests (e.g. cooking, reading, keeping fit ,knitting).
    • Express how you’ve been affected by social distancing (your feelings, what you’ve been doing).
    • Ask them reflective questions (e.g. What is one place that makes you happy when you envision it?).
    • Give them hope!
    • BE CREATIVE: you can even DRAW, write a POEM, and more! 
Length:
  • Any length you would like! If it could be at least one page, that would be fantastic, but anything is great.
Formatting:
  • Font: anything easy to read (Ariel is quite good!).
  • Font size: 15 or above.
  •  Think what would be accessible for the average senior (remember, not all seniors have trouble seeing, but we want to ensure accessibility nevertheless!).
Sending Your Letter:
Once finished please save your letter as a Word Document and a PDF, and attach both to an email addressed "Finished Letter  (First Name Last Initial)" (eg, Finished Letter - Hanya N).
Please send your letter to caringandconnectinginitiative@gmail.com
Please alert Charmaine in the email if:
  1. You would prefer a pen pal who can respond to you.
  2. You would like to send multiple letters (either now, or in the following weeks).
For any questions please feel free to contact Charmaine at: http://caringandconnectinginitiative@gmail.com

See the Niagara This week article here

Good Luck everyone and thank you in advance for making a senior's day!
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