A Tale of Tons of Mailings

A Tale of Tons of Mailings

Marla Goldberg, Volunteer Services Coordinator, assiduously managed a proactive letter-writing campaign by students from two local high schools, Lane Tech and Deerfield High School. By preparing and distributing the missives, Goldberg made sure that a mountain of kind messages and colorful imagery, shown here,  found their way to our many residents. Sent to cheer people during this Covid-19 pandemic, the many heartfelt responses to this effort proved it was successful.

Two dozen letters were delivered to Lieberman Center, and Iris, Life Enrichment staff member, acknowledged them with: “Thank you for sending the letters ... They were well received at this end … Some residents held on to the letters and other letters were sent to multiple floors. These letters were the best I ever read. They were personal and honest, funny, and heartwarming.”

Another two dozen dispatches were delivered to Robineau Residence, and Nina, Activity Coordinator, wrote “I just passed out the cards and heard a chorus of phrases like ‘how nice’ and ‘I can’t believe that a high school student did this,’ and ‘this is great!’ There are a lot of smiles around here today. Please let the students know how much enjoyment they gave our residents today. Thank you for sending the lovely cards and letters!”   

And we received the following from Karen, Manager of Affordable Housing: I just wanted to let you know just how much the cards meant to our Seniors. They aren’t able to do their normal routine. Most activities from the buildings have been canceled. They are isolating for the most part and feel very detached. They were beyond thrilled to receive the cards. I wish I could relay just what this meant to them. It was so kind and thoughtful of the students to think of my residents. Please make certain you let them know just how much it meant to each and every one of them. Thanks!” One resident actually called Goldberg directly to thank her and asked her to communicate his gratitude to those who participated.
The project has been such a big hit that Volunteer Services has offered this opportunity to other groups. Approximately 150 have been collected so far, with the majority coming from the high schools and about two dozen from other groups and an individual volunteer. Goldberg will be collecting even more, too. CJE’s own “healthcare heroes,”—the frontline staff at Lieberman Center and Weinberg Community—have been identified as the next recipients of greetings. CJE thanks all letter-writers and card-makers for this wonderful mitzvah!

It was an impressive undertaking for Volunteer Services, that had to consider many constraints before the campaign could progress. As all kinds of offers of help flooded Volunteer Services in the early days of the pandemic, staff had limited opportunities to offer because of restrictions on face-to-face contact by visitors. Plus, because of the early lack of knowledge about how the virus spreads on surfaces and whether handling of USPS mail was safe, greeting cards for residents were prohibited.

When the staff advisors from the schools contacted Goldberg to offer student letters, she recounted her conundrum, “It was frustrating and difficult to tell would-be volunteers that we were in short supply of activities in which they could safely participate. As an intelligent and well-informed professional, I was torn. I wondered if I should encourage them to send cards and letters. Or do I refuse these generous offers because of the situation at hand?” If she chose the latter, she might find herself in the situation where restrictions on receiving mail would eventually be lifted and regret not taking advantage of the offers. Goldberg  relates: “Intuition told me that, when our residents were going to be isolated for an indefinite amount of time, they would welcome cards, notes, and greetings from those ‘in the outside world.’” Choosing not to waste the opportunity and knowing that she could save the greetings for a better time, she replied with an enthusiastic “YES” to the school staff who had contacted her. She then distributed all the greetings that were sent directly to her by mail.

Goldberg ends with a reflection: “While the pandemic is horrible, it helped me see that the fate of our future will be in the hands of these teens, and I’m grateful for that. They crafted immensely personal, encouraging, insightful, wise, and amusing cards and letters.” When Goldberg initially asked if it was ok to share some of the pieces on Facebook, one of the high school advisors answered in the affirmative with “Why not share the joy!” What a great idea! Thus, we post this story … and Life Goes On.