Pen pal program brings joy to people in Oklahoma nursing homes

VIDEO: Pen pal program bringing joy to Oklahoma elders

TULSA, Okla. — -A pen pal program is helping break feelings of isolation and connecting residents living in nursing home and senior living facilities.

-FOX23 News told you about the program back in July when Diakonos Group, an Oklahoma owned and operated long term care provider, posted on their Facebook page. They posted pictures of residents at multiple locations across Oklahoma and asked the community to share some love by sending a letter.

-In recent months, residents like Lydona Atchley living at Arbor Village in Sapulpa say the program has changed the dynamic inside their walls. She says she and other residents look forward to the pen pal letters and even share them with each other. Atchley said, “They read the letters over and over again because it gives them a glimpse into some other place.”

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-With the pandemic, staff have limited and restricted access to visitors at places like Arbor Village. Atchley says she’s happy to report that not one person at the facility has tested positive since March. Atchley says she has continued to remain optimistic and realizes the nursing home staff are doing everything to keep them safe and a virus from spreading; however, she says many residents have become depressed. Many residents, including herself, have not seen family members face to face in several months.

-Atchley says the letters have created smiles and connection with people across the world. She says most of all, the letters have created hope.