Teen creates pen pal project with nursing home residents, hopes to ’bridge the gap’

Make a pen pal with senior citizens in San Antonio

It’s safe to say, most of us have done, or at least considered, something new after the pandemic began and quarantines were recommended everywhere.

Some people may have tried yoga or knitting, leatherwork or gardening, maybe even learning a new language or an instrument. Joven Tapiador, a teen from San Antonio, landed on launching a community service project, through Summer of Service, or SOS, an organization that educates youth in the area through service-learning and opportunities.

As residents at nursing homes have been quarantined during much of the pandemic, many senior citizens and elderly have been isolated, unable to see loved ones. So Tapiador began a letter project.

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“I got inspired by my grandmother,” Tapiador told our San Antonio news partner KSAT-TV. “She lives in Ecuador, and I’ve been (on) FaceTime with her since the beginning of quarantine. I was thinking about all the other seniors who don’t have anyone to talk to, so I partnered with SOS to start the project.”

Tapiador said he wants the younger generation to bridge the gap with the older generation.

“There (are) a lot of perspectives and viewpoints we can share with one another,” Tapiador said.

Letters written through Tapiador’s project will be sent to residents in two San Antonio-area nursing homes, and the teen says he hopes the pen pals can create a relationship.

“You can’t just send one letter to a senior and then have them send one letter back and never talk again,” Tapiador said. “You’ve got to kind of build that relationship.”

Participants in the program must write at least one letter a week, which is also counted as 30 minutes of community service. Tapiador has already sent a few letters of his own.

“I asked what was one of their favorite memories,” Tapiador said. “I am hoping to receive a letter back.”

While the SOS is geared toward students in grades six through 12, Tapiador’s project is open to anyone in the community who would like to participate. They must create a free SOS account and sign up for the letters project under “Opportunities.”

The first letter can’t be written to a specific resident, due to privacy reasons, but participants can choose which nursing home they’d like to send a letter to.

Learn more about Tapiador and his project on KSAT.com.