Tawanda Robbins knows a little card can make a big difference.
Robbins is the founder of the Love in Action Project, a Charlotte, NC-based nonprofit that aids older people across the nation.
February is the group’s busiest time of the year, when volunteers make valentines to send to senior communities to combat the effects of social isolation and loneliness.
“There is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality when it comes to people in nursing homes. The goal is to bring visibility to an invisible population and shine a light on the aging community,” Robbins said.
The Postal Service plays a pivotal role in delivering the handmade greetings and messages to nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and Meals on Wheels recipients in time for Valentine’s Day.
Since the Love in Action Project was founded in 2010, more than 80,000 valentines have been distributed. Volunteers contributed 6,800 cards to the cause last year.
What started as a “cute project has become so much more,” Robbins said.
Love in Action has experienced a volunteer surge during the past three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the crisis, the organization could deliver the cards directly to senior facilities and residents.
However, during the pandemic, there have been more restrictions on visitors. Still, senior communities continued to “trust in the postal process as the safest method of mail delivery to residents,” which has been critical to the cause, Robbins said.
The National Council on Aging cites social isolation among older adults as a significant issue posing severe health risks.
Studies show socially isolated seniors have a 59 percent higher risk of physical and mental health decline, heart disease, high blood pressure and dementia.
Specifically, Robbins points to a finding that 60 percent of nursing home residents do not receive regular visitors, which can put them at greater risk of abuse, neglect and physical decline.
“Our well-being depends on connection with others. These communities are starving for love and affection,” she said.
For more information on the Love in Action Project, go to the website or send an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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