GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Things are quiet at Clark Retirement Community on the east side of Grand Rapids. In fact, the community has been locked down since early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning there are no visitors allowed.
However, the employees are doing all they can to make sure their residents aren't feeling down or lonely in this tough time.
"I was on Facebook one and I noticed that one of my friends had a picture of a letter addressed to, 'a friend that would like to receive mail,'" said JoAnn Abraham, the Vice President of Development at Clark retirement home. "The address was to the Clark retirement home."
That was the inspiration for Abraham to put out a brief post asking for letters and cards to the residents during this time of quarantine and the response was unbelievable, with hundreds pouring in.
"From California, Arizona, here in Michigan, people have been sending them from all over," Abraham said.
For residents with a tight-knit family, this time certainly isn't easy.
"It's very hard becuase you can't see your family at all," said resident Sal Verstraete.
But the cards from strangers are making up for all of that.
"The thought of her sending this to me and doing this for me is a feeling of love," Verstraete added while looking at a card made by a 12-year-old from Grand Rapids, "that love is really important right now."
And for residents like Hank Martin, who is 101-years old, the cards mean everything.
"I welcome them," Martin said via Zoom, "I'm the only one alive in this world, I'm all alone, I have no family no friends, they're all gone. This is my family," he smiled while looking at the cards.
Some cards are filled with facts about other countries and cities while others are simply telling that resident to have a great day.
"It's just great, here they all are," Martin added with a handful in front of him, "I wouldn't throw these away for anything."
And the community is taking proper precautions to make sure the cards and letters are sanitary to give to the residents, most sit in an office for 48 hours before being distributed, according to employees.
If you or a loved one would like to send a card or letter to residents, the community is welcoming more, simply label it to 'Someone who would enjoy mail' and send it to:
Clark Retirement Community
1551 Franklin Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506