GILBERT, AZ — While many of us are staying at home and trying to figure out what the stay-at-home orders from the state really mean, there are several Valley residents who don't have a choice, but to shelter in place.
Nursing homes have locked their doors, and senior living communities have stopped allowing visitors in, to protect the health of those who most at risk of suffering from COVID-19.
At one Valley senior living community, the staff has found fun ways to keep residents busy, and also to let them know, they're not forgotten.
"A couple weeks ago, when people realized seniors were going to have to go in lock-in, they started calling me. Families and neighbors wanted to know what they could do to lift their spirits a little bit, of course, it's hard because you can't let them in, and you can't have them bring things into them because you're exposing them," said Dawn Nietzel Milburn, the community relations director at Quail Park Morrison Ranch in Gilbert.
So the staff came up with the idea of asking the community to write letters and make posters for the residents.
They put up a poster along their fence calling it the "Quail Mail Rail" and asked residents to hang up their posters along the fence, surrounding their property.
"That's how the whole thing took off," said Milburn.
Imagine the surprise when residents woke up to the sight of dozens of posters right outside their back patio. They saw balloons, heartwarming messages from children saying things like "You are missed", "I love you with all my heart," and "You can do anything."
"They are just tickled, some of them are so adorable and they're really funny and they just really do lift up their spirits. The residents, they go out every morning to see if any more have been added," said Milburn.
In addition to the Quail Mail Rail, Milburn said they are trying to keep their residents busy, while staying safe.
Activities like a toilet paper scavenger hunt, a jailhouse rock party where residents dressed up in black and white and got their "mugshots" taken, along with bands playing out on the community lawns filled up their day.
Milburn said a big favorite that made everyone laugh was a poster showing a picture of grandma with lines drawn across her face, signifying wrinkles.
"We all got a big laugh out of that one. Everyone loved it," said Milburn.
You can find Quail Mail Rail at 3333 E. Morrison Ranch Parkway in Gilbert.