Letters For Rose connects student volunteers with elders



Letters For Rose is a student organization that uses art and letters to connect to elders in nursing homes.

In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all looking for new ways to connect with each other. Some students are coordinating small connections that have had an extensive effect.

Letters For Rose is a group that works to reduce loneliness among elders during the pandemic by getting high school and elementary school students to make personalized letters and artwork for the nursing homes in Brookline. The letters provide elders with a view of the outside world during the pandemic and connect them with students. The organization was founded in New Jersey this year and is staffed exclusively by high school student volunteers. They currently have chapters in over 23 states, including Massachusetts.

Junior Lily Lockwood started the Brookline chapter of the organization this past summer. With her core team of 12 people, she has been able to establish a community to help connect student volunteers to senior citizens. Lockwood said elders are part of the community and should not be overlooked.

“I think it’s important to remember that they are people and they want to connect with others just as much as anyone else would. A lot of people overlook seniors just because of their age and we are really glad we get to make them feel loved and remembered,” Lockwood said.

Letters For Rose is a small community of six core-management teams. These teams work alongside the volunteers who make the letters and artwork. Junior Samantha Yee said her job as a transportation and verification director is meaningful to her.

“I really enjoy reading all of the letters and every time I go through the batch I start smiling about the kind words people have, and how I know that this letter might be going to someone who’s kind of lonely or having a bad day,” Yee said. “And then I also love seeing the pictures that we get from the homes of the seniors who have received our letters smiling. It’s really rewarding to see that.”

Contributed by Samantha Yee

Senior Cole Jilek said he has a personal reason for wanting to be involved in this organization.

“I know my grandparents have been going through isolation because they’re not allowed to see anybody, so one of the reasons I joined was because it’s a really good thing to do for the community, and I wanted to be involved,” Jilek said.

Even if they are not able to write back, establishing personal connections with elders shows them that people outside of their nursing home communities care. The letters also give senior citizens an outside perspective of the world during this pandemic. Junior Jiayi Guo said their organization plays an important role in helping hold the community together.

“I think it’s important to connect with seniors because we don’t often get to communicate with our senior citizens other than our own grandparents. We live in a very progressive era and it’s important to not leave anybody behind, especially those who helped build a foundation for us young people,” Guo said.

According to junior Jaida Kelly, the organization has provided many opportunities for students to connect with their community and with the country.

“The knowledge that I’m a part of something bigger, something that expands across the country, is an amazing feeling. I can’t imagine how lonely some senior citizens must feel, isolated from their families during the pandemic. I love that I get to help bring them joy, even if it’s something as small as a smile,” Kelly said.


This article was updated to include a correction on 12/7/20