Thousands respond to Alcester nursing homes pen pal plea

Positively KELOLAND

All across KELOLAND, there are thousands of people in long term care and nursing homes who are shut off from visitors. Before the Pandemic the 35 residents at Alcester Care and Rehab had some entertainment to look forward to. But for their safety, these days the doors to the center are closed to outsiders.

So staff came up with an idea, use Facebook to reach out. They posted photos of several residents who are willing to be your pen pal.

Social Services Director, Jade Petersen, Activities Director Wendy Ballantyne and Marion a resident of the home talked with us Via Zoom. They say they are amazed at the response.

“We have about 1,800 shares on Facebook and I think we’re up to 160,000 views and 300 some comments,” said Petersen.

Tom Hanson: Wow, did you expect this?

“No I was expecting it to be just local people, I figured our local, we live in a small town, that they would maybe 50 people, I am blown away, it’s more than we can ask for we are eagerly waiting for the letters to start rolling in for our residents,” Ballantyne said.

Like most homes, Alcester is closed off from outside visitors.

“I don’t think any of us knew that it was going to blow up like this, but we’re thankful that it did because we can really use the extra Christmas cheer this year,” Petersen said.

Marian, who is 96 years young, says she is anxiously awaiting some nice letters.

“I’ll have to get a hold of my daughter, tell her then they can come and we can all read them,” said Marian.

The staff says this kind of activity is just what the residents needed as we head into the holidays.

“Maybe being a pen pal to Marian might help the person who’s sitting at home alone too you know. I think it’s going to benefit both,” said Ballantyne.

“You can already tell the atmosphere in the facility is more cheery, now that everybody knows that there are people out there who care for these people and there’s a lot of them,” Petersen said.

The staff plans to assist the residents in writing back.

Along with the six initial residents in the pen pal program, several more have decided to accept letters.

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