LONGMEADOW — Like all families, Leigh McGrale Vengco and her three daughters, Lily, Grace, and Teia, were home socially distancing and trying to adjust to the new reality forced upon them by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vengco is a clinical social worker who has worked in skilled-nursing facilities and long-term-care units. Hearing about the fight against COVID-19 at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, and the no-visitor policy instituted to protect against the spread of the virus, she was looking for a way for her family to help out, make a difference, and bring comfort to elders who were now physically isolated from their families. The family came up with the idea to encourage other school-age children to join them in creating bright greeting cards to lift resident spirits.
“I believe having such contact from the outside world, especially from children, with their creative and uplifting words and drawings, could help put a smile on someone’s face, or maybe it would just be a nice way to let them know they’re being thought about,” she said. “Maybe it will comfort them in this time of such uncertainty.”
Born was the idea to create a one-week Facebook campaign for local students to create ‘Letters of Love’ and deliver them to the Vengco home. In one week’s time, more than 100 cards and letters came pouring in from students of all ages from the various Longmeadow schools.
Vengco and her daughter Teia delivered them to the Leavitt Home, where the Life Enrichment staff passed them out to the residents. The cards warmed residents’ hearts, brought lots of smiles, and lifted spirits. They contained poems, artwork, riddles, and expressions of kindness and caring.
“During these challenging times, if there is a silver lining, it is the many acts of goodwill, support, and loving-kindness coming from members of the community,” said Susan Kimball Halpern, vice Ppresident of Development & Communications. “These cards from local children were so beautiful, and the messages so warm and even clever. They made our residents so happy. They are now hanging on resident bulletin boards and doorways throughout our building, bringing smiles to everyone who sees them. We are so grateful for this thoughtful gesture from the Vengco family and the many students who participated. They should know that their creative efforts warmed people’s hearts.”