The Power of One
What would you do if someone right next to you was suffering and you had the ability to help them? The answer seems obvious, but untold barriers often hold us back. Phil was in this situation in Spring 2020, with the onset of our current COVID-19 pandemic. A physically towering man, Phil (featured above) is ever humble, quick to praise others, and a quiet force whose undercurrent of conscience is strong and steady. As a Dining Room Manager for a Senior Living Community, his focus is to please those he serves – a calling not everyone can fulfill. Through his work in food service, he makes sure to take ownership of the environment around him and making improvements as needs arise. Recently, during work, Phil passed a resident who seemed down and out, so he stopped to chat. She mentioned that she didn’t have family, she was lonely and looking for connection and reminisced that pen pals were no longer commonplace…wouldn’t it be nice to have someone to write to again? Phil began to think. Pen pals? Yes, pen pals. Writing. Paper. Who is learning to write these days instead of typing on a computer? Then, he had it. He reached out to his friend, a teacher, for input – would any of his elementary students be interested in writing letters or sending artwork to our Residents? A resounding “YES!” was the answer, so Phil looked to schools in his local Dallas, Texas community to start a pen pal program which encouraged a greater connectedness for the residents of Edgemere. The results were nothing short of heart-warming.
Pen Pals in Modern Times
Students of the Dallas Independent School District were coordinated by a team of school administrators and Phil’s team at Edgemere. Ultimately, pen pal communication went like this: students were given the assignment to make a kindness-based art piece, letter, or short greeting video with the help of their parents. These would then be reviewed by teachers and all letters and artwork were posted in the hallway at Edgemere for the Residents to see and enjoy. Next, if the Residents wanted to write back to those classes to say thank you, this was done through the supervision of both the school and Edgemere Dining Services leadership teams. Some of the Residents went above and beyond, sending photos in from world wide travels of their past, telling stories, jokes, and sharing facts about places and things that would be of interest to young people. Phil said another round of the pen pal program would hopefully happen in the Fall of this year, as it seemed to be a positive bright spot to the Resident’s day.
Thank you, Dallas Independent School District and students for collaborating with us on this project. Together, we proved you can make a difference in someone’s life; maybe that person right next to us. If we take a moment to look at someone, see how they’re doing, and not only listen to their needs but do something about it in a way that’s available, we see that change starts with one; one person, one little idea. This effort demonstrates the power of individual contribution – and its impact on communities – and our culture as a whole.
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