I have been penpalling and writing letters since I was in kindergarten. My grandma wrote letters, my mother wrote letters, and when I was old enough to write a few sentences, I started to penpal too.
I have been richly rewarded over the years with my handwritten efforts. I have met beautiful people–some of them have been in my life since I was a child! Not only that, but penpalling got me through some exceedingly awkward teenage years too.
The best reward I can share though is not with those childhood friends, but when I got back into penpalling full-time two years ago and signed up with ChemoAngels. I chose a senior angel instead of a cancer patient in honor of my special grandma who got me into penpalling, and even in her last days loved more than anything for me to read letters to her from her Cuban relatives and friends.
I met my senior angel in 2011. I hope I have made as much of a positive impact in my senior’s life as she has in mine. Not all seniors write back…some are incapacitated…some just delight in letters, cards and gifts, but don’t reply much if at all. Mine actually writes me back and we have built a strong sisterhood over the past two years!
The organization, Chemo Angels is first rate. They match you up with someone they feel is compatible. My senior is a younger senior…I hope we remain good friends for the next twenty years or more! The signup is painless. You visit their site, look over their requirements, and decide whether or not you can commit to a once weekly letter, card or gift. (*Admittedly, I have fallen short some weeks, but I am as prompt as possible, and if I need to be late, I have a contact to explain why…)
Even if you do not have the time or money to commit to weekly correspondence, please check with the local nursing homes in your area for volunteering opportunities. There are always elders who need our love and appreciation. You can send gifts, cards, letters, etc., or you can visit them in person too to play board games, read stories or just visit with and develop a wonderful friendship.