Any additional questions?
What is Letters for Rose?
There are many seniors living in retirement homes that feel isolated from the outside community which has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. At Letters for Rose, we supply letters and artwork from local volunteers of school age to residents of senior homes in their communities. Letters For Rose is a student led project which collects letters and artwork for residents in nursing homes.
How did it start?
The original chapter was started in Montclair, New Jersey when in-person volunteering had to end due to the pandemic. The founders wanted to stay in contact with the residents that they connected with. They organized friends and family to write letters for the residents then expanded their idea to friends across the country. The idea spread like wildfire and soon all across the country (and even in several places internationally!), hundreds of volunteers are starting their own chapters of Letters for Rose in their towns and cities.
What is the goal of the project?
We aim to make sure no senior feels alone during this pandemic by bringing them joy and outside contact while being safe. Our volunteers write either personalized letters filled with questions, stories and love or make beautiful artwork to hopefully make the senior citizens of our community feel cherished and valued.
Who runs the program?
Letters for Rose was founded by Layla Hurwitz and Annika Aristimuno, juniors at a high school in Montclair, New Jersey. Each chapter works closely with Annika and Layla and has its own team of students who operate and adapt the program to their own
Whats your mission statement?
Letters for Rose reduces loneliness among elders during the COVID-19 pandemic by creating and distributing personalized letters, art, and donations for local nursing homes. Founded and staffed exclusively by high school student volunteers, with chapters in over 23 states, Letters For Rose creates community service, team-building and leadership opportunities for its volunteers.
What are the different roles?
For people who want a leadership position, they can sign up to join/start a chapter in their area. The roles are:
Chapter Head- The head of your area/ making sure other positions are running smoothly. You organize donations, spreadsheets, forms, etc. You will need to assign tasks to the other people on your team to ensure you are making progress. You are also responsible for updating Layla and Annika on what you have been doing, and keeping a record of your progress. You'll also try to find new people to add to our team through instagram DM or email.
Outreach Coordinator- Calls different nursing homes and tries to get them to accept letters and artwork. Build relationships with each of the homes. The more information about their residents that they can give us access to- the better because the letters could be more personalized. The Outreach Coordinators get email and phone call templates as ideas of what to send to the facilities. They also are given a folder with a release form to use if any nursing homes don't feel comfortable giving out information.
Ambassador- Finds people who want to write letters and make art for your area. You can do this through texting your friends, posting on different social media platforms( insta, facebook, snap etc.), or making flyers to put around your town. We can send you things to copy and paste to the participants to explain what we are asking of them. Once you find people who are interested, have them sign the google form for your chapter. You will be responsible for communicating with the volunteers to tell them any info they need, such as what to write, where to bring it, etc.
Transportation/Verification: Have people drop off the letters at your house/ a drop off location in your town or pick them up based on what the ambassador tells you works for each person. Once you have collected all the letters, look through them to make sure they are appropriate. Then deliver them to the nursing home.
Social Media- We will need someone to post regularly on our social media. We post photos of all the letters we have got, reactions, responses, etc. We started on Instagram and our website (this!!) but we also want to extend to other social medias like tik tok, facebook, snapchat, etc.
ALL TEAM MEMBERS WILL BE ADDED TO "SLACK" WHICH IS WHAT WE USE FOR COMMUNICATION!
If you don't want a leadership role but what to volunteer for a chapter:
Letter writers and Art makers
Is Letters for Rose sponsored?
The program is not sponsored but it is an event under Maristi LLC.
How are you combating COVID-19?
We are very cautious about the COVID-19 risks, as we are volunteering with a group that is higher risk. We notify all of our volunteers that they must be free of COVID-19 symptoms to participate and make sure to double check as the deadline for their piece draws closer. After collecting, we give the letters and art a few days to sit before being delivered to ensure all possible germs/bacteria have died. We will also talk to the homes beforehand and recommend that they let everything sit, untouched, in a room for a few days and/or wipe pieces down with sanitary wipes (if possible) once the packages are dropped off at the homes. Also when letters are delivered the date of delivery is attached so a home will know how many days to leave the letters outside.
What are the guidelines for writing letters and making art?
Volunteers have the freedom to draw and write about whatever topics they want, as long as it is appropriate. They are encouraged to ask questions which will engage the recipient in active thinking. We ask nothing about religion, politics, no cursing, and no racial slurs or negative ideas. All letters are proof-read to ensure nothing inappropriate is sent out.
How are senior homes chosen?
Outreach coordinators in each chapter reach out to senior homes in the area to see if they are interested in participating in the program. If the home is interested, they will send a list of residents as well as any other information that they feel comfortable sharing. If homes are worried about confidentiality, we have an official release form to send to them, however this doesn’t ensure that they will release
Will the seniors write back?
Currently, no seniors are writing back. Many of them may not be lucid enough to write back, so the letters instead allow them to recall memories and think about what they have read. Seniors may not be physically able to read, so the staff of the home reads the letters to them and has them respond to the questions the writer may ask. In the future, we will try to create a pen-pal situation but that is not our current goal.
Is this an ongoing opportunity?
After your first piece is delivered, our team may reach out to you to see if you want to continue volunteering. If you decide you’d like to, great! We are happy to have you and If this experience wasn’t for you, no worries! Just let us know if you are no longer interested, and you will have no further responsibilities. Chapters are constantly looking for new nursing homes to work with, or old ones that would do another round.
How is my information used (name, email, phone number, address, etc)?
We understand that we ask for quite a bit of information from you, but know we only ask for what we need. We will never share or sell your information, and once you decide to leave the program it will be deleted. Your email and phone number is so that we can get in touch with you. If you decide to write letters or make artwork, there is an option for us to pick it up which is why we need your address. If you don't feel comfortable disclosing this information, we also have drop off locations.
How and when will I be contacted?
After you have filled out the google form, our team will reach out to you with information. If you want to start a chapter or join one, we will invite you to a zoom meeting with other new volunteers so that we can explain everything to you and meet you. If you signed up to make something for a chapter, they will follow up with any necessary information (such as who you are writing to). You may also contact us at any point should you have questions, comments, or feedback!
How do you identify seniors in need of this service?
We don’t find specific seniors to communicate with. Instead we find senior homes who are interested in participating in the program, then gather enough letters until we have at least one for each of the residents.
How can I sign up?
Go to our "Get Involved" page to sign up for what interests you!
Can I receive community service for this?
You can! Just track the time you spend working on the project. Send us the log of your hours and we can give you your service hours. If you want to receive credit for school, you will need to reach out to a guidance counselor or dean at your school.
How are my letters/artwork given to the seniors?
When you fill out the sign-up form, you are given 3 delivery options: you can have your letter picked up from your home, deliver it to a nearby drop box, or submit it digitally. If you choose to have your letter/artwork picked up, you will be told when your letter will be picked up and to leave it in an unsealed envelope somewhere outside your home for our team to retrieve. Please remember that pick up is only available within a certain radius! If you choose to deliver your letter/artwork to a drop box, you will choose which drop box location is most convenient for you, then deliver it there by a date that will be told to you by our team. If you choose to submit your work digitally, you will type or handwrite it, then take a photo of it to send to us via email. There are different email addresses for each chapter, which can usually be found on the google form.
What does the time commitment look like?
For volunteers, you will likely spend at least half an hour writing a letter or creating your artwork. For team members, it depends on your position, but you should expect to spend anywhere from 3-8 hours per week working.