Several weeks ago you may recall I published a joke email about the treatment of The Elderly in Nursing Homes v Criminals in Prison. Guess who receives the best treatment! The post resulted in one of my facebook subscribers posting a link on my Facebook wall: The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly. Curious, I clicked on the link which led me on to The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly. The pictures haunted me…
Walk into any nursing home today, and you’ll see them: The aging lonely. They are easily recognizable. Look for the sadness on their faces, the pain in their eyes. With a television on for company, these men and women sit alone in their rooms. Their shelves are bare, their bulletin boards void of pictures, cards, or any memento denoting love from the outside. Those sad eyes may even hold a twinge of bitterness, asking, “Why am I still here with no one to love me?” ~ by Karrie Osborn
Intrigued by the idea I decided to contact Pam O’Halloran founder of “The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly” and she kindly agreed to be interviewed.
Pam, please can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have been a flight attendant for many years with US Airways. My love and compassion for the elderly actually began on an aeroplane one day. An elderly gentleman boarded prior to the rest of the passengers, as he needed more time and help. He hobbled slowly down the aisle with his cane, as I carried his bag and lifted it into the overhead compartment. As he sat down, I began conversing with him, only to find that he was desperately alone in the world. He was headed to New York City alone, where he would then catch a bus to a place where he would again…be alone. When the plane landed, I walked with him up the jetway in an effort to get him some assistance to his bus. (nothing had been arranged for him previously and he had never been to NYC) He stopped after a few steps. I thought he was out of breath and asked if he was alright. He was weeping. He told me how much he appreciated my care and concern for him and thanked me profusely. I hugged him tightly and we cried together. I have never forgotten that poor, lonely old man. I never had any living grandparents, nor had I ever worked in elder care.
What prompted you to start The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly?
That man, on that day, touched my heart so deeply and inspired me to begin helping the lonely elderly however I could. I began volunteering and have been doing so in various capacities ever since. I can think of no better way to help them. The simple act of just being there, with love in your heart, makes a huge difference in the lives of the lonely and forgotten elderly…and your own,
What is “International Card Exchange for the Elderly”?
I began my original page, The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly as a way to raise awareness and to encourage volunteerism. Many people indicated that they were disabled, homebound etc., and could not get out to volunteer. I always suggested sending cards.
Last October, I began, The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly with those people in mind, as well as others who may be too busy to volunteer. It is a list of long-term care facilities and other cooperating organizations that help the lonely elderly. People may choose one address, or many, from all over the world, and send cards, letters, postcards, photos, small gifts etc. to the lonely elderly who have no one. They often send several cards in a single larger envelope, with a note included that instructs the activities director to pass them to those residents who would most benefit from a little cheer.
I have begun sharing the list with those who request it so they may print and share it with others and their community. All of the addresses are on the page itself, however, one must scroll down quite far to be certain they view all the addresses. I have been thrilled with the feedback I have received. Many are involving their children, grandchildren, schools, churches, and even having “card party” nights with their friends to make and send cards to our lonely elderly. Wonderful!
How can people get involved?
Follow this link to connect to the page: The Forgotten Ones : International Card Exchange for the Elderly
Please don’t forget to “like” it!
It is very important, also, to click on and read the “About” to fully understand how to get started and glean a bit of information and ideas.
Anyone who would like the list and information to print and share may feel free to message me through the page itself and I will paste a copy to that message.
Please note – if you are not a member of Facebook you are welcome to contact Pam by email: pam o halloran [at] yahoo.com (Please remove spaces and change the at)
Do we need to contact care homes first to obtain permission to send gifts or cards?
I do have connections with some of the facilities and organizations listed, while others are submitted by people who ‘like’ the page and for various reasons would like a particular facility included. I have no way of knowing whether they have asked permission, but I have heard no complaints thus far. Residents names are never included, for safety, and the cards are addressed to the Activities Director to review first.
If one is able to contact and include the name of that individual, then even better. My experience has been that most people send cheerful little things that fit in a standard card envelope – like stickers etc. When sending gifts that do not fit in a card, I would suggest including a gift bag rather than actually wrapping them, to alleviate any safety concerns and allow the distributors to judge which gifts would be most appropriate and for whom. Larger gifts may always be delivered directly to a long-term care facility locally, and of course, an actual visit is always the best gift!
How and where do people add nursing/care home details to the list
Use the address listed on the facebook page or send by email.
If sending several cards in a larger envelope add “attention: activities director” to the outside of the envelope, and again, include a note inside stating your intentions to have them delivered to the more lonely residents. For individual cards, include the name and address of the facility along with “to any resident“, as well as “Attention:Activities Director” on the outside of the envelope. The greeting on the card inside can simply be a generic “Hello!” or any creative way of saying it.
I type and print a letter telling them a bit about myself, my life etc. and include a copy in each card. Photos of yourself, family, pets, travels, children’s drawings etc. are nice as well.
Postcards may be sent separately or included in a card. I like to encourage people to send cards outside of their own country or state/province if possible. It may make it more interesting and exciting for the resident. It can be as creative or simple as one wants to make it. I can assure you that your love and care will be felt and appreciated more than you can imagine!
Please also visit, The Forgotten Ones: Compassion for the Elderly and be inspired to volunteer for our lonely and forgotten ones.
The Forgotten Ones: International Card Exchange for the Elderly
Compassion for the Elderly
email: pam o halloran [at] yahoo.com (Please remove spaces and change the “at”
If this post strikes a chord with you, please reblog, share on Twitter, Facebook etc to help spread the word to your followers all over the world.
Thank you 🙂