Writing program connects residents of senior community with public

The senior citizens at Pomeroy Living: Senior Living Communities are now participating in a writing campaign in which they exchange letters and notes with people of all ages. Pictured are Harrison Township residents Emalynn Shorkey and Ricky Shorkey, who have shared written letters and drawings with senior citizens at Pomeroy locations. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JACOB SHORKEY)


PUBLISHED: July 25, 2023 at 5:15 a.m. | UPDATED: July 25, 2023 at 12:33 p.m.

The lost art of letter writing was recently revived in Pomeroy Living senior living communities, providing a technology-free way for senior citizens to connect with people of all ages.

“I decided to start the pen pal initiative because I believe that connecting youth with their elders is essential,” Pomeroy Living Director of Communication Jacob Shorkey said. “It not only brings belongingness and purpose to the residents of our community, but also brings joy to the person writing to the senior. It is connecting community together and spreading joy, one letter at a time.”

Pomeroy Living has several locations, such as senior communities in Sterling Heights, Rochester, Northville and Lake Orion. Shorkey said that in Sterling Heights, Pomeroy offers locations with services such as assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing/rehab. In Rochester, Pomeroy has locations with services such as independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing/rehab and more. The Northville location has assisted living and memory care, and Lake Orion has independent, assisted living and memory care. The Operation Pen Pal program began in June and is available to senior citizens at all Pomeroy locations.

“The pen pal program Operation Senior Pen Pal is starting off the campaign at the Pomeroy Sterling Heights location,” Shorkey said.

Shorkey said that any member of the public, of any age, can participate in the program. Location does not matter, as public participants have come from as far away as Florida. Members of the public can inquire about participation by emailing Shorkey at communications@pomeroyliving.com.

“I will then forward their information to the activity director,” Shorkey said. “The public can also just mail letters to our corporate office, and we will match the pen pals that way as well. We match first with residents who may not get as many visitors or family engagement.”

Initial letters of inquiry about the Operation Pen Pal program can be addressed to Operation Senior Pen Pal. The letter is sent through the Pomeroy Living corporate office at 5480 Corporate Drive, Suite 130, Troy, MI 48098.

“We read the letters prior to the residents receiving them to ensure the best possible match to the senior,” Shorkey said.

Senior citizens at Pomeroy Living: Senior Living Communities can start to participate in the program by contacting their community’s activity director, who will match them with a pen pal from the public.

“We have over 100 seniors signed up to be matched with a pen pal across our seven communities,” Shorkey said. “Fifty signed up at our Sterling Heights community.”

Currently, the program is operated between senior citizens and the public strictly via post office letters, without emails, texts or video. However Shorkey said if a senior and a member of the public want to have greater interaction, this can be accommodated.

“If the resident agrees, we can certainly invite the pen pal to meet in person with the matched resident. We always have activities and events at our community that they would be invited to if interested to connect on a more personal level,” Shorkey said.

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Manda Ayoub

Manda is a nurse and a licensed nursing home Administrator in the state of Michigan. She has worked through all aspects of the post-acute healthcare industry, holding various positions including Infection Control Nurse, In-service Director, Quality Assurance Director, Risk Manager and a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.