Where to find volunteer pen-pals for elders?
December 26, 2009 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Mission of Mercy Filter: How can I find sources of cheery personal mail for my lonely elder Alzheimer's patient? I live with my mother-in-law who has middle stage Alzheimer's. She does a lot of sitting and staring. She has no attention span for books or magazines or TV. She lights up for visitors, dessert, church... and personal mail. I am looking for a service that arranges (basically, one-directional) "pen-pals" for elder shut-ins. She has just enough means to assure her basic care, but not much for extras. This would have to be a volunteer service like a charity or ministry.

I am getting involved in some mail art swap sites in order to direct my part of the swap to my MIL. I am also going to send her some stuff on my own. But I got to wondering -- isn't there a service out there that does this kind of thing? And if not, isn't that a great idea for a service?

If sitting down and jotting a note to someone would make someone's day, wouldn't that be worth doing? I would volunteer for such an effort if it existed. Can you help me find one?
posted by cross_impact to Human Relations (53 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
I haven't heard of such a service, by if you send me the info, I'll drop her a postcard from Arkansas and another tom home in area weeks.
posted by bilabial at 8:20 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll be happy to send her one too, from Brooklyn.
posted by greta simone at 8:22 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Turn this endeavor into a Metafilter Project?
posted by dfriedman at 8:23 AM on December 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


I haven't heard of such a service, but I, too, would be more than happy to send the occasional postcard.

I think we may be on to something pretty big, here, if this isn't an actual service yet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the service. The closest I can think would be PostCrossing, but that requires you to send post back too. I used to be on Postcardx, but I think that basically collapsed.

Like those above I'd be totally happy to send post from England, as I love sending mail.
posted by somergames at 8:40 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you (or someone else) was going to start something like this, I would think you could structure it much like a letter-writing programs for soldiers, like AnyMarine.com. Check out the "Where to Send" section- all of the contacts are listed, and people request the full addresses when they're ready to mail so that they always get the most current address and it's tracked how often people are getting things.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:41 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aside from the ideas here, I bet you could put a request in the church bulletin.
posted by veggieboy at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2009


I'd also be happy to drop the occasional card/postcard/note from time to time from Connecticut. I'll also be in Las Vegas in a few weeks and would be happy to send a postcard from there, too.

This is really a wonderful idea. Your MIL is lucky to have you.
posted by Maisie at 8:49 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll be traveling extensively over the next 3 weeks. I'd be happy to drop your MIL a line in each of my ports of call.

You're really on to something here.
posted by mrsshotglass at 9:04 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd be happy to send something from Milwaukee.

Otherwise, check out local high schools and universities. Some of them have community service requirements, or organizations that would be happy to have some of their members write letters as a service project. Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops might be able to do something too. I know they visit nursing homes during the holidays, so they might also be willing to send cards or even a video of their caroling to your MIL.

I also work in Special Education, and I could see some of the kids I work with who have moderate cognitive disabilities getting involved in writing letters to someone. Good practice for them, and a nice thing for your MIL.
posted by christinetheslp at 9:13 AM on December 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Add me to the list of people willing to send mail!
posted by Lemmy Caution at 9:28 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd love to send mail, too. I'm a postcrossing member and have a large number of penpals outside of that -- sending out another letter or postcard here or there would be great!
posted by VioletU at 9:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like fun! Count me in.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:47 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can send a lovely postcard from Oakland. San Francisco Bay Area represent!
posted by anitanita at 9:49 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to send one, two or more erratic postcards from Hong Kong!
posted by typewriter at 9:50 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Absolutely make this a Mefi Project! And if you can, make it a website too, or maybe a Facebook group. What a fantastic idea. Memail me the address, I'll send her some stuff, and I'll pass it along to others who might as well.
posted by nevercalm at 9:50 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll send a nice photo note from my area. MeMail me an address.
posted by availablelight at 9:57 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would love to send her mail also.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 10:04 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd gladly send a postcard from Seattle!
posted by adiabat at 10:13 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Me too .. a cheery card plus a couple of crayon drawings from my kid. Sign me up!
posted by Kangaroo at 10:16 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like to send her some handwritten mail from California.
posted by jamaro at 10:40 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This badly needs to be a Mefi project — I'm sure your mother in law isn't the only Alzheimer's patient who would love this sort of thing.

(also: sign me up; there's already someone sending a postcard from Brooklyn, but a second couldn't hurt).
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:56 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


A thought--is there a way to assign us volunteers dates, so it's spread throughout the year instead of arriving in one big clump?
posted by availablelight at 11:08 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm in too.
posted by JanetLand at 11:12 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd be happy to send her some mail from Ohio and assorted vacation destinations.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:15 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


nthing that this would make a fabulous MeFi project. I can send mail from Colorado.
posted by faineant at 11:31 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Count me in for a letter from sunny Sheffield in the UK.

MeMail me the contact details.
posted by She Kisses Wyverns at 11:32 AM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would happily participate, and also thanks for the boot to the head about how I could easily be making my grandmother (with middling dementia) happier once or twice a week. Sheesh, I'm a moron.
posted by magdalenstreetladies at 11:35 AM on December 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd love to write to her. Please memail me the address.
posted by smoakes at 1:05 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Add me to the list of postcard senders!
posted by deborah at 1:13 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


If sitting down and jotting a note to someone would make someone's day, wouldn't that be worth doing? I would volunteer for such an effort if it existed. Can you help me find one?

Looks like you've found one right here. Count me in, too. What were some of her interests, hobbies, etc. in earlier days?
posted by ourroute at 1:35 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd be happy to send a note from beautiful Cleveland, OH! (Or, uh, Cleveland, and beautiful wherever I'm travelling. :-)
posted by ferociouskitty at 2:07 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is the nicest idea ever. Please memail me if this becomes a project for your MIL and others.
posted by sfkiddo at 2:15 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


what a great idea. count me in.
posted by sdn at 3:07 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd happily send something, too.
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:37 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd love to participate too. I'd like to send a postcard of my own, but also, I'll be teaching low-literacy adult learners starting in January, and I think this could be a good class project. Please MeMail me with the address details!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:39 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Add another English postcard to the mix.
posted by ellieBOA at 5:43 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


i love postcrossing and am way into snail mail - i would love to send your mother-in-law a letter!
count me in too.
posted by chickadee at 7:25 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a whole collection of calligraphy nibs that need some exercise, count me in! I also volunteer my children's artwork if she'd like that too. Please let me know!
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:12 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would write a letter,me mail the address please and good luck, hope to spread some cheer. As a sidebar the postcrossing thing sounds like fun, anybody suggest any good penpal sites? Thanks
posted by Upon Further Review at 10:20 PM on December 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yep, wow, sounds like you've got more than enough, but I can send her postcards from Australia.
posted by surenoproblem at 1:01 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Count me in for a postcard from Ireland. Incidentally, if anyone is planning to make this into a Mefi Project, I'm there with bells on!
posted by psychostorm at 7:21 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


i'm happy to send postcards as well, add me to the list.
posted by dmbfan93 at 12:32 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow!!! I am overwhelmed and quite touched by the outpouring of support for the idea! I will be memailing each of you with info and suggestions. Thank you for your willingness to reach out.

I agree this would make a great project. I would love to volunteer in such an effort myself. So the question changes -- How to get such an effort up and going as simply, easily, and cheaply as possible?

I can definitely develop the concept and requirements, as I am a systems engineer, but I have no web programming experience except a little Drupal administration stuff. But I figure there'd need to be some code behind a site that would facilitate and track the matches. I could probably find a place to host, but where could I find the development juju to pull it off correctly?

Again, thanks! I am very encouraged by your response!
posted by cross_impact at 2:02 PM on December 27, 2009


More than happy to write to her from Australia. My Grandma couldn't handle reading in her last few years, and lots of family wrote to her things that she couldn't enjoy. I miss her so much. Would love to give some happiness back.
posted by taff at 2:44 PM on December 27, 2009


I'd be happy to send things from Washington, DC, and from forays to WA, NYS, Bermuda, and hopefully other places!
posted by jgirl at 5:10 PM on December 27, 2009


I'd love to send a postcard from San Francisco!
posted by stop sign at 8:40 PM on December 27, 2009


I would be very happy to send postcards from Minnesota.

Also, thanks to posters in this thread who introduced me to PostCrossing. This is going to be fun!
posted by beandip at 9:40 PM on December 27, 2009


Please, add me to the list. I'd love to send her a note now and again.
posted by sapphirebbw at 11:42 PM on December 27, 2009


Count me in as well! As to your question about how to start it up, perhaps you could create either a Facebook page or a blog to connect everyone that is interested in contributing.
posted by elisebeth at 8:26 AM on December 28, 2009


Send me a MeMail and I'll write from Oakland.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2009


This is such a great idea! Send me a memail and I'll be happy to write from GA.
posted by Carhart at 10:37 AM on December 28, 2009


What's the current status of this? Did it ever make it as a MeFi project?
posted by woodman at 5:48 PM on February 28, 2010


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