The pandemic’s disruption to Texans’ lives is perhaps most fiercely felt for residents of long-term care facilities.
When facilities across the state shuttered their doors to visitors in March, in an effort to slow the spread and keep them safe, residents were left to ride out the public health crisis without their loved ones by their side.
But a dedicated crew of AARP volunteers set out to tackle this hardship one card at a time. From July to August, 15 Dallas-based volunteers devoted their time to crafting an array of cards with messages of hope and encouragement for nursing home and assisted living residents.
“Our goal was to engage volunteers in virtual activities while making an impact in our community,” said Zulema Solis, an AARP Texas associate state director. “It was a beautiful way to bring a light of hope to residents during these trying times of isolation.”
One volunteer, Delores Wilson (a finalist in a national AARP Create the Good contest among volunteers) sent 200 cards with the simple message that someone, somewhere, was thinking about them and wanted them to have a great day.
“I've had relatives in nursing homes and I know how lonely it can be when family is not in the same area and you don't have people to visit you, even before COVID,” Wilson said. “And COVID just made it so much worse.”
It’s bad enough to be away from family, but especially so if you’re ill, said Wilson. This sense of injustice drove her to go above and beyond to connect with residents.
The month-long endeavor, which wrapped up at the end of August, culminated in volunteers sending a total of 465 postcards to five nursing homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Some volunteers even recruited the help of their grandchildren to add splashes of color and creativity to their notes.
With assistance from Dallas-based organization Senior Source, AARP sent cards to residents of Beltline Healthcare, Westridge Nursing and Rehab, Fair Park Health Care Center, Simpson Place Skilled Nursing, and Adora Midtown Park Skilled Nursing.