Residents of Chartwell’s Willow Manor retirement home is marking Remembrance Day by writing letters for soldiers. Bertha Roberts, Joan Williams, and Joyce Richards were among those who put pen to paper for the soldiers. (Special to The News)

Residents of Chartwell’s Willow Manor retirement home is marking Remembrance Day by writing letters for soldiers. Bertha Roberts, Joan Williams, and Joyce Richards were among those who put pen to paper for the soldiers. (Special to The News)

Trio of Maple Ridge seniors write letters to soldiers serving in Baghdad

One generation reaches out to another ahead of Remembrance Day to show appreciation

With Remembrance Day activities so different this year, with public commemorations and gatherings restricted by the pandemic, a few residents at a Maple Ridge seniors home found their own way to honour Canada’s heroes.

A trio of residents recently gathered together, physically distanced, to write cards and letters of gratitude and recognition Canadian soldiers now serving overseas, noted senior communications officer Claire Bickley.

“They are the generations that have given so much for their country, for peace, for all of us,” she said, anxious to share the heartwarming efforts being taken by these local seniors ahead of Remembrance Day.

There are many veterans among the Chartwell residents across Canada, including some who have called the local Willow Manor facilities on 224th Street home. With that in mind, three current Willow residents decided to recognize the current generation of military heroes by writing letters to the “brave men and women,” Bickley explained.

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“At one point the noisy room became very quiet as the ink flowed and so did some tears as they thought about their own experiences during the war years,” said Michelle Zavaglia, Willow’s lifestyle and program manager.

“They proudly filled two big manila envelopes. Some we written like a ‘thank you’ card for their service, some were written as ‘just thinking of you’ cards to let the soldiers know they are not forgotten on Remembrance Day, and some were written like a letter to a friend, describing what living at Chartwell is like and what they do on an average day here, naming activities and the menu.”

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The letters have been mailed to Canadian forces in Baghdad, chosen by the residents because of the impact of a visit to Willow last Remembrance Day by Canadian Armed Forces Capt. Donald Lamb, who served in Iraq.

“None of the ladies who wrote letters were married to a veteran. They are just three really kind and thoughtful people who always volunteer to do nice things for other people,” Zavaglia said.

“We like to assume if there is any soldier who doesn’t get mail, that they receive our cards and letters and know how special they are and how amazing what they are doing is.”

The residents are planning to pick up their pens again to send holiday cards to the troops overseas.

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