Submitted by Daniela Gunn-Doerge, Coordinator, Vancouver Mount Pleasant CRN; Special Events and Outreach Coordinator, Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House
In light of last year’s ultra-successful Valentines for Care Homes project, the Seniors Team at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House (MPNH) decided to reach out to care homes and schools in the area to see if there was interest in doing this project for a second year. And, as we should have expected, there was a resounding “yes”. Our community, bursting with generosity and creativity, was ready to mobilize in the service of love.
This year was another hard one, especially for older adults in our community. Many have lost loved ones, and been isolated not only from services and programs, but also from their friends and family. As they are most vulnerable to the virus, we also know this last wave of covid brought a new wave of fear and anxiety.
But even for those most COVID-weary, a folded piece of paper with glitter and an “I care about you”, goes a long way, and the card makers know it.
We put out the call and immediately heard from daycares and schools, colleges, and girl guide groups. We heard from individual community members, parents, seniors themselves, wanting to drop off even just one or two cards to the Neighbourhood House to help us reach our goal. About one week before Valentine’s Day, I got an email from L’Ecole Bilingue, a nearby French immersion elementary school saying, ” Our students have been working so hard on the Valentines. Our goal was 300, but our kids are proud to announce, the final tally: 488!”. I went to the school to thank the students in person and carried away the precious cargo in the beautifully-decorated Valentine Box. As we started sorting and packaging at the Neighbourhood House, more cards, beautifully handcrafted continued to come in through the door.
Since we delivered 1,300 valentines to seven care homes and hospitals and mailed another 400 to individual seniors, I’ve been getting calls. Seniors have reached out to say how they were so pleasantly surprised to open the mail to see a valentine or two from some kind stranger out there. Someone who wanted them to know that by virtue of being in this community, they are loved and cared about.
It is during moments like these, that I challenge myself to take a pause and really appreciate the meaning of such a small gesture. In the depths of another dark year, we can see cracks of light, beautiful moments of people coming together even while they’re apart.
Our wish at MPNH is for everyone to feel connected and valued as contributors who create the community they want to see – and, we think, this is a pretty special way to do it.
Until next year.
(Header Photo: Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House.)