pen pals from Landmark nursing home in KY meet the writing club from the local elementary school

After months of swapping letters, nursing home residents at Landmark of Elkhorn City finally got to meet their 3rd-8th grade pen pals from the writing club at Elkhorn City Elementary School. 

Staff set up the event with a party atmosphere in mind, but it was also an emotional event, according to Director of Nursing Aimee Mullins.

“[The students] got to interact and have a snack with their pen pal and they got to talk,” she explained. “The residents would cry — so excited to meet their little pen pals. … There were five or six staff that helped with the party and everybody was just in tears at the interactions between these children and our residents.”

Thirteen of the Kentucky facility’s residents had been sending letters back and forth with the club’s members since August, according to Mullins. Some personally wrote their notes by hand, with others receiving assistance from Landmark staff.

The elementary school is just across the street from the 106-bed facility, so Mullins’ daughter — a member of the club — would run the messages back and forth after the club’s monthly meetings.

“We’re very close to the school,” Mullins told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. “The school is literally across the road so we host different events throughout the year, like trick or treat programs.”

The connection between the two institutions only deepened during the pen pal meetup. The writing club seemed just as moved by the mid-December event as the residents.

“The teacher was telling them that in January they would change clubs,” Mullins said, “and the students didn’t want to change. They didn’t want to change clubs and they didn’t want to change pen pals.” 

Last year was the first for the pen pal program, but its success inspired Mullins to make plans to turn it into a tradition. Asked if the connection with the writing club would continue, she said “Definitely, and we’ll try to get more residents involved.”

For more stories of nursing homes embracing the brighter side of life, see McKnight’s coverage of one nursing home’s indoor snowball fight.