By May Chee/Special to The News
I visited my grandparents as often as I could. Being oceans away, once a year was just enough to catch up from the previous year and a bit more.
I remember the smile on my grandmother’s face when she saw us outside her door – it was the same, no matter how many times we had gone through this exact ritual previously.
At that time, a global pandemic separating us was the last thing I thought was possible.
Social isolation has been lonely for everyone, including me –but what about my grandmother?
What happens when your family and friends can no longer reach you?
This is the reality that the rise of COVID-19 exposed about our country’s treatment of seniors. According to the Sending Sunshine research, nearly a third of seniors in Canada live alone, and 40 per cent report that they regularly experience loneliness.
This only skyrocketed during a time of social isolation.
Four students (including Chee) from Mississauga, Ont. stepped up to fill these gaps.
Started during the height of the pandemic, Sending Sunshine is a non-for-profit, student-led organization that aims to reduce this isolation felt by seniors in care homes all across Canada.
We collect handwritten cards from volunteers across the world and deliver them to more than 570 Canadian elderly care facilities, including many that are based in British Columbia.
One of these homes is Revera’s Sunwood Retirement Residence located in 224th Street in Maple Ridge.
Revera strives to give seniors the support, empowerment, and inspiration to feel fulfilled in their aging experience. They address the often overlooked issue of ageism in society and how that can be a largely limiting factor in the lives of older people.
Sending Sunshine brings happiness to seniors while promoting volunteerism among the youth, bridging a gap between generations and connecting two otherwise separated individuals with a pen and card.
In addition, we administer and lead a growing number of school chapters, involving more youth with our cause and bringing awareness to schools across Canada.
Sending Sunshine operates with more than 10,000 student volunteers and has received more than 100,000 handwritten cards from 17 countries, in three languages.
We are always welcoming cards that can be mailed to the P.O. box found on our website.
A card of sunshine from a kind stranger could make a senior’s day just a little brighter. Your words could mean more to someone than you could ever imagine.
– May Chee is one of the founders of Sending Sunshine
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