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Senior Living Communities Celebrate ‘Send A Letter To Your Elder Day’

Pictured from left are Zac Hnatyszyn, regional director of community outreach; Frewsburg Rest Home residents Terry Gowan, Josie Klee and Doris Schultz, and Activities Director Kristen Magnuson. The group holds up letters that will be sent to Corry Manor for National Send A Letter To Your Elder Day. P-J photo by Sara Holthouse

Local senior living communities are celebrating National Send A Letter To Your Elder Day.

Culture Care Senior Living is made up locally of Tanglewood Manor, Frewsburg Rest Home, Memory Garden and Comfort Today. The idea to have residents send letters to other facilities this year for the holiday — which falls on Monday — began at the Frewsburg Rest Home, when regional director of community outreach Zac Hnatyszyn saw a post online from the Corry Manor in Corry, Pa.

“We are big on odd holidays here and we wanted to be able to give back, so this year we decided to not ask for letters from the community but for the community,” Hnatyszyn said. “I saw the post from the Corry Manor asking for letters and reached out. They have 94 residents who will be receiving letters.”

Hnatyszyn said he thought it would be a great idea to do a peer-to-peer system of letter writing this year, which was spearheaded at the Frewsburg Rest Home, where the letter writing began for seniors to receive letters from other seniors in assisted living homes.

Activities Director Kirsten Magnuson said for her it was a way to hear what the older generation has to say.

“From my perspective, we look up to the older generation and want to hear from them,” Magnuson said. “It’s a way to give back and see what they have to say.”

Hnatyszyn added that doing it specifically from seniors to other seniors this year can help other seniors living in assisted living homes because it allows them to see and be in contact with others in the same situation.

“It lets them hear that they are not alone,” Hnatyszyn said. “They see others in the same situation as them, who are not only living but thriving. We have residents who have already said they hope to get a letter back.”

The letters will also serve to strengthen bonds between the seniors across the county, while also creating positivity according to Hnatyszyn. He credited Magnuson for getting the residents excited.

“Right now (Magnuson) is doing a great job getting the residents excited,” Hnatyszyn said. “It didn’t take a lot of motivation to get them going because they were so excited. We did not have to do much, we just started it and it took off from there. They’re still talking about it today.”

Both Hnatyszyn and Magnuson said they assisted in letter writing where needed. They added that for some it was a challenge when they actually sat down to write the letter because it had been such a long time since writing one, but once they started it took off.

This holiday and writing the letters can be very important for residents, especially for some who might not have support.

“We do so much to let them know we care from the staff and their families, but certain families and individuals don’t have that personal connection and support,” Hnatyszyn said. “We want to provide that, not as a caregiver but as a fellow senior.”

Additionally, Hnatyszyn said that for some senior citizens moving into assisted living homes can be exciting but for others it can be a little scary and these letters will allow them to see that there are other people thinking about them. Magnuson added that it will allow the residents to get to know more people and feel loved.

“They enjoy writing to other residents, some that might even be their own age,” Magnuson said. “They’re excited. They want to hear back and would ask things like whether it was going to a guy or girl, and off it went.”

For next year, Hnatyszyn hopes that this holiday will become more of a thing and catch fire so it can grow into a bigger event involving more homes.

“This holiday could change someone’s life,” he said. “If they’re feeling down and out and receive a letter that shows them that someone cares, it can make them feel so much better. I would love to even be able to do this every month.”

For both Magnuson and Hnatyszyn the best part of writing the letters has been the residents’ reactions.

“I have people come up to me and they’ll say, that party was great or that those letters were so fun,” Magnuson said. “It’s the best feeling.”

Hnatyszyn said that the look on the faces of residents as they were writing was “so infectious” and that he “can’t wait to see what they look like when they open them.”

“Little acts of kindness go a long way for many,” Hnatyszyn said. “It doesn’t take a lot to take time out of your day to do something for someone. The people and staff here focus a lot on spreading positivity because there are so many negative things in the world. This is one way to spread positivity.”

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