Lakeland retirement community receives overwhelming response to pen pal request

If you are getting cabin fever from not going out much because of the coronavirus pandemic, imagine how difficult it is for seniors in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. They haven’t been able to host visitors in months.

“It’s not easy,” said 80-year-old Rita Penney. “There are some days I would like to go scream. But, then you say, this is life.”

Lake Gibson Village, where Penney lives, came up with an idea to make life a little easier for all of its residents. The center put the word out that residents were looking for pen pals.

The response has been overwhelming. More than 400 letters, cards and gifts are arriving every day.

“It’s great to know that there are people out there that care about the residents here. I think that’s the big thing,” exclaimed Penney.

Michelle Denson, who is coordinating the project, could not be any happier.

“This response has lifted everyone’s spirits,” Denson said. “You know in tough times the goodness of people often shows brightly, and I think this is a prime example of that,” she told FOX 13.

Penney is now corresponding with a young woman who lives in Lakeland. She is thinking about possibly talking on the phone down the line or even inviting her over for lunch when COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

Since Lake Gibson Village has gotten such a massive response, it doesn’t need any more potential pen pals to write in.
Instead, it is asking people to find a nursing home or long-term care facility in their area, and find a pen pal there.