Photo courtesy of HomePlace at Oak Harbor Memory Care
Navy aircrewman Mackenzie Ball is writing and collecting letters to send to residents at HomePlace at Oak Harbor Memory Care like Dottie Luce, many of whom have not had visitors for months.

Photo courtesy of HomePlace at Oak Harbor Memory Care Navy aircrewman Mackenzie Ball is writing and collecting letters to send to residents at HomePlace at Oak Harbor Memory Care like Dottie Luce, many of whom have not had visitors for months.

Navy woman arranging letters to send to seniors increasingly isolated by pandemic

While visiting a fundraiser at HomePlace at Oak Harbor Memory Care, Mackenzie Ball learned that some seniors had not received visitors since February.

She said she felt compelled to do something.

Like most senior living facilities, HomePlace was closed to visitors after the COVID-19 pandemic began, though some socially distant visits are allowed.

“That kind of stuff breaks my heart,” Ball said.

Ball explained that some of her relatives have lived in senior living facilities and she’s always felt compassion and concern for older people.

Too often, she said, older people are isolated.

With Thanksgiving coming, Ball said she was trying to think of a way to reach out to the residents at a time when most people cannot physically visit them. She came up with the idea of writing letters and collecting cards for them.

Reaching out to Valentin Delbar, lifestyle director at HomePlace at Oak Harbor Memory Care, Ball asked for a list of residents and two of their interests. Ball and her girlfriend were planning to split the list and write to each of the residents themselves, but she posted the list on Facebook to see if others were interested.

The response was overwhelming.

“It was a very welcomed, but unexpected, explosion of attention,” she said.

Soon, Ball had three people who wanted to write each one on her list of 32 residents.

A mother-and-daughter team offered to create packages for everyone on the list.

Some deployed Navy members overseas also offered to send letters via email.

A Navy air crewman herself who moved to Oak Harbor a few years ago, Ball contacted Hillcrest Elementary and asked about having students make Thanksgiving holiday cards.

Delbar said one resident has already received a letter from Ball.

“She was basically talking to her like they were friends,” Delbar said. “Like, ‘You don’t know me but I’m writing to you because I like to do this, too.’”

Getting the letters is helpful for the memory care residents because reading engages their mind, similar to how reading a book stimulates their brains, according to Delbar. It’s also important that the residents to feel like someone is interested in them.

“It’s good for them just to feel love again, just to feel like somebody is interested in them today or what they like to do,” Delbar said. “It’s all about sharing things.”

Some of the letters Ball has already received include the writers’ return addresses, provided in hopes of keeping the correspondence with the HomePlace residents going.

“Which is exactly what I wanted,” she said. “I wanted them to carry on the conversation and not feel isolated.”

Ball said she planned toreach out to another senior living facility on the island and will need more writers. People interested in writing a letter can contact her at mackenzie.e.ball@gmail.com

More in Life

The Nutcracker - Photo provided
Theatre brings Nutcracker to drive-in, living rooms

A popular wintertime performance will be offered virtually this year.

Rockin’ a Hard Place: Making the most of the short end of the drumstick

So here we are, having given thanks for all our blessings on… Continue reading

Photo by Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record
Christopher Powell pours a glass of fresh hop cider. Misfit Island Cider Company, located near Langley, is hoping to open a tasting room this winter.
Inspired by drier British ciders, Whidbey deejay creates his own

After deejaying in London, one South Whidbey cider maker is branching out.

Georgia Gerber with her whale statue on display along First Street on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Whidbey’s Georgia Gerber creates iconic shapes in bronze

She turns abstract forms into some of the region’s most beloved public art, including the Pike Place Market pig.

t
Santa Claus set to make rounds on Central Whidbey

Central Whidbey Island Fire & Rescue’s longstanding Christmastime tradition is coming back… Continue reading

Sabine Wilms spent the beginning months of the pandemic taking care of two goats, Lady Yang Xiaomei and Marisol. She used Chinese medicine to help heal the goats. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times.
Home for the kids: Whidbey woman takes in two goats deemed lost cause

A South Whidbey woman nursed two goats back to health with the help of Chinese medicine.

Photo by Ron Newberry
Regenerative agriculture: A new, healthier way to farm

By Ron Newberry for the South Whidbey Record Cory Fakkema gets up… Continue reading

teaser
South Whidbey farmer has small plants for future

Full Cycle Farm will be giving away 100 saplings — free of charge — starting on Black Friday.

Artist Louie Rochon demonstrates the process of how he paints at his Clinton studio on Thursday. Photo by Kira Erickson/Whidbey News-Times
South Whidbey artist is painting the blues away

All proceeds from a raffle for a local artist Louie Rochon’s painting will benefit a food bank.

Most Read