Making seniors smile through handwritten letters. It’s a simple action to help combat a serious problem – senior isolation.
In 2013, Jacob Cramer created the nonprofit Love For Our Elders, which collects handwritten letters from around the world and delivers them to care facilities.
“A letter is tangible. You can read it right now, you can save it for later, you can put it up on your bedside table, on a magnet, on your refrigerator. It's just so special to open a card that's just for you,” says Cramer.
Since its start, the organization has mailed hundreds of thousands of letters to senior communities, many coming from Arizona. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing student, Erin Markham, started a local chapter of Love for Our Elders at Yavapai College. As a former elder caregiver, Markham says social isolation among seniors was a big problem before the pandemic.
“These are very important people worthy of respect, they're worthy of our time, you know, and they're worthy of being reminded that they're important,” Markham says.
To encourage people to get involved, Markham says the organization tries to make things as easy as possible. The Yavapai College chapter tries to cover the costs of postage and stationery so the only thing it costs volunteers, is their time.
While writing letters can feel old-fashioned, Markham says it’s easy to find a groove, “I think people find it's more addictive... it's almost like journaling, you know, you just kind of get into the habit.”
To learn more about the organization, volunteer, or donate, check out LoveForOurElders.org.