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Senior Pen Pals

Letter writing requires the attention and creativity of kids—why not put those talents to good use and brighten the day of an area senior citizen? Many senior living communities accept letters and even work with students to establish pen pal connections.

Getting plugged into a senior community is as simple as making a phone call, says Suzanna Swanson, director of the nursing home’s ombudsman program for Senior Source (a North Texas advocate for area seniors). “A senior pen pal has much to teach younger generations,” she explains. “But for residents who sometimes have no family or receive no mail, the gift of letter writing would make a huge difference in a senior’s life.”

The Senior Source will help establish pen pal relationships; parents can contact the Friendly Visitors Project (at 214/823-5700), which will then reach out to its network of nursing homes in search of a resident who’s interested in a potential pen pal, says Swanson. Or, parents can even try calling the front desk of a neighborhood senior living center and ask about possible volunteer opportunities. Swanson adds, “In this age of technology, writing letters to seniors is a great communication tool that can help kids share a part of themselves with an elder.”