BARDSTOWN, Ky. — The coronavirus pandemic has been an isolating experience for pretty much everyone. Those living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities are even more susceptible to loneliness since they haven’t been able to have visitors for months.
"It really is sad, like, how do you see your loved one and not give them a hug or a kiss? But we try to make it as fun as possible," said Daniel Ulery, the Administrative Assistant and Activities Director at the Blugrass Assisted Living facility in Bardstown.
To help combat these struggles, Ulery decided to go old school - helping the residents create connections through a pen pal program.
“Our friends at BAL would love to hear from our community,” the facility posted on Facebook. The facility shared a series of photos of residents holding whiteboards with “Will you be my pen pal?” written on them. The whiteboards also share the residents’ names and interests.
Fourteen residents are featured in the facility’s post. The one couple in the group, Charles and Irma, are fans of dogs and watching football. Shirley likes country music and Bob would love to talk to someone who likes hunting and being outside.
Days after Ulery posted the photos on Facebook, the first letter arrived for one of the residents, Anne, from a woman named Julie.
"She actually hand-delivered it," Ulery said. "I think that's what made it so much more meaningful."
Julie sent Anne a photo and a letter, saying she hopes they can meet someday. Julie also included a self-addressed stamped envelope so Anne can respond.
"I hope our residents gain a friend in the community they've never met before and they have a joy in the waiting process, waiting for the mail to come," Ulery said.
If you’d like to be a pen pal to one of the residents, you can send a letter to this address:
Bluegrass Assisted Living Facility – Bardstown
(Pen Pal name here)
107 Thurway Drive
Bardstown, KY 40004
Since it was published on Sept. 17, the Facebook post has been shared more than 600 times.