'I have never had a pen pal before': Students connect with aged care residents during lockdown
23 May 2020 at 10:00 am
Young volunteers are building a bond with residents the old fashioned way
Social isolation is especially tough for the nation’s aged care residents. But some Victorian students are forming unlikely new friendships with elderly Australians through a volunteer pen pal program.
Year nine students from Aquinas College have been writing to 12 residents at the Corpus Christi Aged Care facility in Clayton since early May to help lift their spirits during lockdown.
Charlotte, aged 15, has been writing to 89-year-old Sr. Isla.
In her first letter, Charlotte discussed her eight pets and love of sewing, singing, dancing and craft.
She said she decided to join the program because she wanted to help the vulnerable people in the community at a difficult time.
“It has brought me so much joy that I can help someone who is isolated like myself,” Charlotte said.
“I think volunteering is a great thing to do because the rewards it brings are so nice. It feels really good to know you are helping someone.”
Sr. Isla said she was happy to see that students like Charlotte were reaching out into the community.
Another student, 14-year-old Alistair, had some entertainment advice for his 81-year-old pen pal Jim.
“I hope you are okay and feeling well through these hard times of COVID-19 and that you are still seeing friends and family from afar,” Alistair wrote.
“Shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine will help you feel less bored in this time. You can watch it on Netflix.”
Jim said he was very happy to receive the letter.
“I have never had a pen pal before. I wrote to Alistair that I’ve been spending my time doing things I enjoy, like watching news programs, Millionaire Hot Seat, playing bingo, trivia and word games,” Jim said.
Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) – which runs the Corpus Christi Aged Care facility – is celebrating the work of Alistair, Charlotte and all VMCH volunteers to mark National Volunteer Week (18 to 24 May).
Alistair said volunteering was “a great thing to do”.
“I believe that volunteering is something really nice to do for anyone and it can change their day,” he said.
“Knowing you made someone’s day better is such a good feeling.”