After the COVID Lockdown went into effect, staff at Goddard Riverside, a senior residence and community center located between 88th-89th Streets at 593 Columbus Ave, realized how isolated their residents were feeling. “No one could visit other than their immediate caregivers could visit, no family and no friends,” says Beth Dunphe, development and communications director.
In the interest of disease prevention, the residents, who range from late 60s to 103, were also restricted from meeting with fellow residents with whom they had regularly celebrated birthdays, and participated in exercises classes, bingo and other recreational activities.Virtual meeting were allowable, but many residents were not comfortable with the technology. More was needed.
What seemed like a feasible solution was to encourage an increasing number of community members offering assistance to write cards and letters with personal messages to residents. At first only a few messages were received. These, Beth says, were copied and delivered with meals to the apartments of the almost 170 residents. Pre-COVID, residents either prepared their own meals or enjoyed meals in a communal setting at the Community Center. During this COVID period, residents are either cooking in their apartments or having meals prepared at the center delivered to them.
It didn’t take long for messages to start pouring in. Now, there are enough for residents to get their own cards, instead of a copied one. Some are cards drawn and colored by children. Others are beautiful pieces handcrafted by adults.
Beth says many community members have written simple letters about how they are spending their time or how they are feeling about the weather. “Such a beautiful day on the Upper West Side.” One correspondent took the time to individualize numerous picture postcards collected while traveling the world. The cards described travel memories, like, “Here I was in Morocco…”
Anyone who wishes to extend a greeting to a resident of Goddard Riverside should send a letter to:
ATTN: Older Adults Project
Goddard Riverside Community Center
593 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024