Mountain Rec launches community pen pal program to connect with local seniors
Pen pal programs help connect people of all ages — something missing during days of quarantine, especially for senior care centers with heightened safety precautions in place. Mountain Recreation is launching a local pen pal program to build connections within the community. Letters, photos and drawings will be sent to local living centers and other seniors in Eagle County.
“It checks all of the boxes,” said Lexxa Kever, facility supervisor for Mountain Rec. “It’s free. It’s entertaining for kids and adults alike. It’s community-focused.”
Drop-off boxes are set up at the three Mountain Rec facilities across the valley — Gypsum Recreation Center; Edwards Field House; and Eagle Pool & Ice Rink. Kever is going around collecting the items from boxes, which have hand sanitizer and wipes available. She’s working with Eagle County’s Carly Rietmann, healthy aging supervisor; and Pat Nolan, healthy aging program coordinator.
The pen pal program is launching with safety in mind. Organizers have done their research and follow CDC guidelines to be sure to ensure safe transfers. Kever said there will be a quarantine period for the submitted letters to be sure to pass the threshold for COVID-19 contamination.
The Mountain Rec website features suggested questions for a pen pal, and Kever recommends putting a return email address on the letters to encourage back-and-forth communication.
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One of the suggested questions is: If your house was on fire, what three items would you save? Kever said she’d save her dog, a bag of photos and “as many pieces of art” she could carry.
“Everybody has something to share,” she said.
Mountain Rec’s superintendent of business operations Scott Robinson remembers writing to pen pals as a kid — he said if his house was burning down, he’d save his sons, safety box with important documents and “probably” his golf clubs.
“We have such a giving community that has always focused on giving back and helping others,” he said. “I think a lot of people in our community are looking for projects like this to bring a little more purpose into their daily lives.”
Robinson added the importance of connecting with the local senior population, adhering to strict social distancing protocols these days.
“From my perspective as a parent of a 3-year-old, it will be fun,” he said. “Not only will it be great to drop these off, but it also gives me something to do with my 3-year-old.”
For more information about Mountain Rec’s new pen pal program, visit http://www.mountainrec.org.
“We think this is a new project that hopefully can keep going because isolation for seniors is a real thing, whether there’s a worldwide pandemic or not,” Robinson said.