A new pen-pal program, Dear Doris and Arnold, started by Joanna Fliegelman of Andover, is connecting Stoney River residents with nearby neighbors via snail mail.
A stay-at-home mom who lost her parents, Joanna recently started the program in their memory to help prevent local seniors from feeling lonely while they shelter in place. On the Dear Doris and Arnold Facebook page, she states, “The purpose of writing letters is to help people feel cared for and appreciated in these strange times of separation.”
When the first letter arrived at Stoney River, it “absolutely lifted our residents’ spirits,” says Kelsey Renk, Stoney River’s VIVA! Life Coordinator, who signed the community up to be part of the pen-pal program. “Joanna was really passionate when she spoke about how she wanted to reach out to the aging community to let them know that they are remembered.”
First Pen-Pal Letter Arrives
As part of the program, Mary from Anoka wrote to Stoney River residents about how she was a retired math teacher and asked them to tell her about their former occupations. Mary also included a couple of hand-painted cards to share with them her post-retirement passion for art.
In response, about a half dozen residents gathered in the community’s theater with Kelsey to reply to Mary. The residents dictated details about their personal career and life histories while Kelsey typed up the letter that they promptly signed, sealed and mailed.
Kelsey explained that the residents love making connections with the larger community of friends and neighbors, so this program really resonates with them. “Once we open back up to the public, the residents want to invite their new pen-pal friends to a party at Stoney River,” she said.
Mary is on the guest list, which continues to grow. Since last March, residents have been receiving kind letters, cards and drawings from adults and children in town, who are sure to be invited too!
While waiting for the next Dear Doris and Arnold correspondence, residents keep busy with small group VIVA! programing, outdoor visits and entertainment and, of course, party planning for the day when a pen-pal can become an in-person pal.
Stoney River, located at 14401 Nowthen Blvd. NW, Ramsey, MN, offers assisted living and memory support within a bright, modern community featuring comfortable apartment homes, a host of amenities and services and access to professional operator Pathway to Living’s award-winning VIVA! lifestyle that inspires joy and fosters purpose. For more information, visit www.stoneyriverramsey.com or call 763-237-3859.