At the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and its corresponding isolation of nursing home residents, one woman at Ss. Peter and Paul the Apostles Parish in Bradenton knew she had to act.
“We are here on this earth to help each other,” explained Kathe Hughes, who tries to live her life like that each day. Therefore, she started a card/letter writing campaign to residents at five area nursing homes. “They are not able to have visitors and I knew they were so isolated, so I thought this would be a way to reach out.”
Hughes started her effort with notes or cards which were short “uplifting, encouraging and religious, plus a few with jokes.”
The response from the nursing homes was so positive and demand for more became overwhelming for just one person to handle, Hughes explained. She knew she did not want the letter writing to be a one-time effort, so she mentioned her work to staff at the Parish, which created a new Parish program called the Letter Writing Outreach. Now members of the Bible study, the Catholic Women’s Association as well as the prayer shawl group are all actively involved.
Fast-forward to July and amazingly more than 950 cards and notes have been delivered with more coming in each week.
The cards and notes are generic, and people drop their sealed messages off at the Parish offices, where Hughes regularly collects and immediately delivers them. She leaves the bundles outside to ensure they are handled safely by the facility.
Many start their participation by using old greeting cards they don’t use at home before transferring to writing longer notes. Because of privacy laws, the names of the recipients are unknown, but Hughes said that does not matter. “It is the message and support behind the message that matters. We care. They know that.”
Hughes also recently took on the mission to deliver 150 notes of support and encouragement from herself to the Bradenton Police Department, just another example of living her life helping others in ways large and small.
A letter writing effort is something she suggests anyone, or any Parish, can easily accomplish by simply reaching out to area nursing homes and asking if they accept cards and how many residents they have. Meanwhile, Hughes is already planning on expanding her efforts in anticipation of the Christmas holidays.