Country Meadow Village Develops Pen Pal Program

Dining director Gina and David with the Kentucky Derby party cart

As the Program Director at Country Meadow Village, a local retirement community that offers both independent and assisted living, I’m known as the “fun guy”, planning all the parties, picnics, and events that take place. I also schedule musicians, kids groups and guest speakers to come and entertain. I decorate for all major holidays and the seasons of the year making our community home for all our residents.

COVID-19 CHANGED IT ALL!

In an instant, we modified everything we did from entertainment and activities to serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to our residents in their rooms. We began doing just that on March 12 (as of this writing we are serving again in the dining room with 50% capacity). As for the fun and entertainment part of the equation, we decorated our party cart and loaded it with green treats for St. Patrick’s Day and then went door to door offering a rousing “Top of the Morning” to welcome residents. We continue to distribute word games and crossword puzzles along with flyers about what is going on in the community.

Penpal participant Mabel holding picture of pal Jade holding picture of Mabel holding picture of Jade and her brother

One of the best things that has happened is the #CoronaWriteUs Project Pen Pal Program. I received an email about starting a pen pal program between kids and seniors, and I knew with the help of Ruth Richardson, a Sedro-Woolley School District team member, we’d be able to get it done, and we have. The letters and beautiful artwork we have received from the kids is inspiring. Our residents in turn, have written amazing letters back to their pals relating personal stories from their past. We were mentioned in a New York Times article about pen pals during the pandemic. Quoting directly: “In March, a retirement community in Sedro-Woolley, Wash, put out a call on social media for ‘letters from children’ in an effort to stay connected to our community and help parents combat boredom with their little ones at home.” The ‘letters from children’ linked directly to the pen pal program on our Village Concepts corporate website. Vince Richardson, a reporter for the Skagit Valley Herald, wrote a front-page article about it that was picked up by two newspapers we know about in eastern Washington. A highlight is featured on the front of this publication. Adam Wagenbach, his mom Indira and sister Katie brought balloons for his pen pal David Weaver on his 97th birthday! CMV team members Megan got festive birthday greetings too because she was born on the same day 80 years after David.

Our community was asked to participate in a University of Washington study on the effects of isolation with seniors amid COVID-19. Resident Care Director Caroline David and I worked closely with the UW team offering insight during ZOOM interviews and yes, I was decked out in my WSU gear!

As we move to get back to normal, we are grateful for the support of our resident families and friends who uplift us every day as we work to create a village that feels like family.