‘It’s important to write’: Lakeland seniors looking for pen pals

Something Good

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The seniors at Lake Gibson Village in Lakeland are taking to social media to connect with the public – but not online. Instead, they’re asking for an older form of correspondence: A pen pal. 

“In the last couple days, we’ve had 20 people post on our Facebook wanting to be a part of this program, which is really exciting,” said Michelle Denson, activities manager at Lake Gibson Village. “So they will mail a letter to our community here, I’ll then take that letter and I hand it off to one of our residents that’s wanting to participate.” 

One resident of the senior living facility that has been on lockdown for months, 85-year-old Jeanne Barr, tells WFLA.com that she enjoys writing cards. So she’s looking forward to having a new audience through the pen pal program.  

“I have been a letter writer for many years, a card writer and always interested in talking and listening to other people,” said Barr. “So whatever information they want to share, we will go from there.” 

Lake Gibson Village resident Anne Marie Jarvo, also a writer, says she’s hoping the letters she sends into the world serve as a lesson for a younger generation. 

“I’m a writer by choice, I have written over 150 vignettes of my life and I have been self-published,” said Jarvo. “I feel there’s a void between the two generations. And I’d like to see the younger generation understand what we went through in life and maybe appreciate what they have today more than they do. People use social media for everything. They forget that it’s important to write as well.” 

Denson explains to WFLA.com she hopes the pen pal program will lead to an increase in visitors for their seniors when coronavirus restrictions are lifted.  

“I believe some of them will really develop some relationships and when we’re on the other side of this and can start having visitors back into our community here, hopefully, we’ll be able to set that up for them to meet face-to-face,” said Denson. 

If you would like to participate in Lake Gibson Village’s pen pal program, letters can be sent to: 

Lake Gibson Village 
ATTN: Pen Pals 
771 Carpenters Way 
Lakeland, FL 33809 

You can learn more on Lake Gibson’s website.

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