Fighting loneliness 1 letter at a time: 2 sisters help seniors citizens stay connected during pandemic

(WHDH) — Two local sisters are on a meaningful mission in the times of social distancing to let members of the elderly community know they are not alone.

The ongoing global pandemic has forced families and loved ones to stay separated in quarantine but, for sisters Shreya and Saffron, the changing times have opened the door for genuine connection.

“I think during stay-at-home, a lot of people wanted to help and a lot of people wanted to do something for the community, but they just didn’t know how,” Shreya said. “And so we offered something that meant people could do something good for the community. They could help each other and they could connect with other people.”

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the girls have been supporting their self-isolating grandparents by calling them every day.

They quickly came to the realization that without visitors — many senior citizens just like their grandparents may be getting lonely too.

“I think this pandemic has made us aware that senior loneliness is a really big problem,” Saffron said. “It definitely has existed before the pandemic, and will continue to exist afterward.”

Seeing their grandmother’s spirits lifted by a card, the sisters were inspired to send handwritten letters to people in assisted living facilities and care homes.

When demand grew, they started recruiting volunteers through “Letters Against Isolation.”

“I think when we realized that this was going to be a big deal, we were like ‘let’s aim for 10,000 letters,” Shreya said, “and we’ve surpassed that.”

“It’s been really amazing to see how many people are willing to take time out of their day to bring joy to seniors,” Saffron added.

Wingate Residences at Haverhill is just one of the communities benefitting from the work of these letter writers and card creators.

The facility released a statement that reads in part:

“On behalf of the residents who have chosen to call the Wingate Residences at Haverhill their home, we would like to say a public thank you to Shreya and Saffron. The residents are stunned at the level of compassion extended by folks they had never met.”

The girls say the response has been overwhelming.

“One woman compared our letters to this love letter she received,” Shreya said. “Getting all these letters from people around the country made her feel the same way.”

“Another senior said that it just reminded them that there were other people still alive in the world right now,” Saffron recalled.

The sisters are still recruiting letter writers for their cause.

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