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Royal pen pal partnership formed with nursing home residents

  Special to Leader-Press 


Social media may be popular among multiple generations, but it cannot replace the handwritten letters that nursing home residents are receiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. To stay connected while we #stayhome, Senior Ms. Five Hills Dawn Hale and the Copperas Cove Five Hills royalty formed a pen pal partnership with the residents of Copperas Cove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.  

Hale started the partnership in September with several residents assigned to each of the royalty to which they write letters twice a month.

“I have shared with them that I am a military veteran, married for 20 years, have five children and six grandchildren,” Hale said. “I wrote I am excited to hear all about them when they write back. I have not heard from my pen pal yet, but I wait with anticipation to get a letter so that we can have regular correspondence and then meet in person when restrictions are lifted.”

Five Hills Junior Ambassador Hayley Sawyer wanted to share letters with the elderly because it would be enjoyable and she had never had a pen pal before.

“I wrote about how excited I am about Halloween and about preparing my costume,” Sawyer said. “I hope to hear back soon about their favorite holidays too and learn more about them.”

Hayley Sawyer’s mother, Amanda Sawyer, said writing to her pen pals is a wonderful opportunity for Hayley to connect with members of the community and learn to interact in a new way. 

“Hayley also gets to practice her cursive writing and letter structure which are great skills on which to improve,” she said.

Copperas Cove Five Hills Ambassador Kaydence Roberts said she misses the regular interaction with the nursing home residents. 

“We used to visit the nursing home every month, playing bingo, having ice cream and tea parties. This year, we weren’t allowed to do that because of COVID 19,” Roberts said. “I’ve shared with my pen pals how I like gymnastics, being a cheerleader and helping animals. I have not heard back yet, but look forward to getting a letter soon.”

Area Director of Marketing at Copperas Cove Nursing & Rehab Trae Cunningham said the residents really look forward to receiving the letters from their pen pals and reading about what is going on with them.

“Our residents can feel isolated during these times of no visitation,” Cunningham said. “The royalty pen pal program helps keep them in touch and they feel loved.”

Preteen Miss Five Hills Romella Spitzer said the nursing home residents are like her “Nana and Pop.”

“They love hearing from us,” Spitzer said. “I shared my love of art and even sent pictures of my drawings to my pen pals. I also shared my love for animals and my dream of being a veterinarian one day.”

Junior Miss Five Hills Kadence Coombs and Miniature Miss Five Hills Joslynn Coombs sent their pen pals some fuzzy socks and Kadence, 8, sent her pen pals journals for them to take turns writing a story together, said their mother, Ashley Coombs. 

“This is a great experience for both girls,” Ashley Coombs said. “Not only are they learning basic letter writing skills and etiquette, but they are learning that it is important to remember the elderly and show humanity and gratitude.”

Copperas Cove Leader Press

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