Seniors in nursing or assisted living homes are pulled away from family, friends and their community. Many do not get regular visitors or see people outside of the homes. Snail Mail for Seniors works to solve that problem.
"There is a huge senior citizen population right now," said Cathy Donaldson, founder of Snail Mail for Seniors.
Snail Mail for Seniors is a nonprofit organization that sends greeting cards free of charge to senior citizens in nursing or assisted living homes in Michigan. The group focuses on seniors who do not receive mail or many visitors.
September marks the five-year anniversary for the organization. She said she sends cards to 35 senior homes and 20 personal homes, and there are about 800 seniors who get cards each month.
"I had been visiting my grandma for many, many years," said Donaldson, who founded the organization in September 2007.
She said it was when she visited her grandmother in an assisted living home that she noticed how lonely some of the other seniors were.
"Their walls were stark, they had no visitors," she said. "It broke my heart."
She said that getting something as simple as a card made their day. One woman was so happy to receive a card that she held it in her hand for weeks as she sat in her wheelchair, Donaldson said.
Donaldson, who lived in Canton for 20 years and now lives in Plymouth, distributes cards to several homes in Canton, Northville, Novi, Westland, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Detroit, St. Clair Shores, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Rochester Hills and even Manistique in the Upper Peninsula.
She said she also sends cards through Canton's Meals-on-Wheels.
Nursing and retirement homes are concerned with security so they do not release the names of seniors who get cards. There are also no in-person visits.
"I think it's a win-win," Donaldson said. She said volunteers can do something heart-warming and inexpensive, and seniors feel that someone remembers them.
Donaldson said she started with the money her grandmother left her when she died. Now, she said, she has exceeded that amount and spends out-of-pocket to pay for postage.
Donations she could use other than cards are stamps and padded Manila envelopes, she said. Donaldson said she is happy to provide card-stock if people would like to host a card-making session in their homes, churches or schools.
"I couldn't do this without all those people who send me the cards," she said.
She said the next step is to become a 501(c)3 organization so that people can donate money as well as cards. Although, she said, it's a lot of paperwork and she would appreciate some help.
"I do it because I love it," Donaldson said. "I'm hoping to make people more aware of senior citizens."
For more information on Snail Mail for Seniors and how to help, check out its Facebook page.