After training counselor Reyanna Johnson and several members of her former Halas Center unit recently settled into the Frick Center, she noticed how frequently the members mentioned missing friends who had selected other centers when Halas closed. She sensed a learning opportunity and seized upon it: Why not create a pen-pal group as a writing exercise?
“I thought it would be a great way to exchange words of encouragement and friendship,” Reyanna recalls. Since then, the project has expanded beyond the former Halas members to units at Frick and other centers, as well as in our residential homes. The staff helps the members write and address their letters.
“We received mail back from Mock and Lewandowski [Centers], and the members were super excited!” said Reyanna. “The staff helped them read everything, and it motivated them to return a letter.”
Envision art consultant Monika Neuland Thomas distributed stationery and colored markers to the centers so members could also mail creative projects.
“Westtown and Kruger members wrote letters and made artwork for their pen-pals,” reported Westtown Center Program Director Hannah Lowe. “They introduced themselves to their pen pals. Some took photos of themselves that we will print at Walgreens so that their future pen pal will know what they look like.”
Reyanna’s goal is to help members exchange mail at least once or twice a month. “During these Covid times of separation and social misplacement, we all need to keep our members motivated—and keep the love going!” she said.
If you are interested in becoming a pen pal with an Envision member, email firstname.lastname@example.org.