Virtual Pen Pal Program
The Grande Prairie Palliative Care Society offers a Virtual Pen Pal program to help keep seniors in our community connected. We are pleased to accept letters in many forms from all over the world. You can hand write or print your letter, send your letter in the body of an email, via text, in MS Word format or as a pdf. We also encourage attachments of photos and drawings with letters. You can also choose to make a card for your Virtual Pen Pal.
If you choose to make a card or handwrite your letter, that is wonderful! Please, do not mail your card or letter to us. We ask that you take a picture of your card or written letter one page at a time. Try to lay the card or letter on a flat surface and take the picture “straight on”.
All Letters and pictures must be emailed to us at: [email protected]
From there, we can then send it off to one of our many seniors involved in our program.
Enjoy your self! Make this fun for everyone who is participating.
Tips for writing your letter
- How to address your pen pal if you do not know their name: “Dear Pen Pal, Hello friend, Good day, etc…”
- Introduce yourself. This makes the connection with a real person. This can be done a little time to make it last longer.
- Tell stories about your life. Tell one story at a time and have lots of detail. This will help to build a picture in your reader’s mind which is engaging.
- Pick something current that is going on and tell about it from your perspective. Again, use lots of detail and humour always brings a smile. Do not over think this, it can be about a walk you took with your pet, or a trip to the grocery store, or something fun you did with your family.
- Tell about something to look forward to. This may be something you have to look forward to (maybe a trip you are planning to go on or a garden you are planning to put in). You’re your reader can feel involved in their own way, start to relate to it, they may even start to look forward to it and will enjoy hearing about it. If they forget about it, that is okay to. (Remember some of your readers may have memory loss or other impairments)
- Use larger print so it is easy to read. Please nothing smaller than 12pt.
- Try to send more than one page, so it takes the reader a bit longer. They may read it in section which makes it last longer.
- Sent a picture or an illustration if you can. Tell a good story about the picture. (you can pull a picture off the internet, doesn’t have to be exact, just enough to help them build the story in their mind). You can included pictures of drawings so that your reader could colour it when they were done with the letter.
- If you hear a really good story that is amazing or brings a smile to your face, retell it to your pen pal in your own words. Don’t be afraid to add your own feelings and comments. That makes it personal.
- Remember, this is about giving of your heart to someone who needs a break in their routine or who is socially isolated. A surprised letter can change everything. They can keep it and reread it as much as they would like.
- Your Letter: Your one letter will touch many seniors. We currently have 28 facilities involved in our program and that equates to over 1100 seniors in those facilities. When your letter reaches the facility, depending on the number of residents your letter may be read by or to many seniors in the same care home.
- Other languages: If you speak or write in other languages please let us know. We may ask you to write letters to specific residents in their chosen language.
- If senior’s writes back: The senior’s letter will be emailed to us and we will forward it to you. If you wish to write a letter back addressed to that senior, please do so and send it to us. We will then forward it to that specific senior.
- Media exposure: To increase participation we sometimes post on social media or speak to mainstream media. If we select a letter of yours for possible use in this manner, we will contact you first, and only proceed if you agree.
- Security: For your security and the security of the seniors who participate in this project, we must ask you to use only use first names when writing your letters. All letters are read and vetted before sending on to facilities to ensure the safety of all.
- Feedback: We encourage feedback, tips and tricks that we may not have thought of. Please do not hesitate to share.