Caring and Connecting

Bringing Hope to Seniors in an Era of Isolation

Though a deadly virus may separate us physically, many are still finding ways to connect socially through technology. Sadly, some of our most vulnerable populations and those we are striving to protect—our precious seniors—do not have the same avenues to connect with the outside world in a meaningful way.

Charmaine Holland is a recent graduate of McMaster University and friend of Really Living Church. A long-held affinity and affection for senior populations has shaped her aspirations to specialize in geriatric medicine. It was this passion for elder generations that sparked her involvement in McMaster’s intergenerational music program back in 2018, featured here:

Charmaine has teamed up with her good friend and Really Living member, Aliza Prodaniuk, who is also a McMaster alum. Together they are coordinating a compassionate initiative aimed at connecting willing individuals with isolated populations in long term care facilities.

Aliza is organizing the Hamilton (Really Living) chapter of the program while Charmaine focuses on the Niagara region.

Read below for the duo’s instructions on how you can get involved in this worthy and timely endeavour:

Hello Friends!

Wanting to lend a helping hand in your community while #socialdistancing and #physicaldistancing?

Imagine being an older adult in complete lockdown. An inability for their family and friends to visit makes this pandemic an incredibly lonely (and scary!) time for senior citizens in retirement homes and long-term care facilities. This long-term isolation can lead to depression and loneliness and a word of kindness can go a long way.

The Caring and Connecting Pen Pal Initiative was created to provide the opportunity for YOU as community helpers to write a letter (or letters!) to the elderly who reside in retirement homes and long-term care facilities.

The best part? You don’t have to leave your home to participate! #flattenthecurve #stayhome

All you have to do as a Pen Pal is:

  1. Compose the letter on your computer (Please see instructions at the bottom of this post before composing!). You can even draw, or write poetry! Be creative!
  2. Email it to: (make sure to spell it right!) Your letter will then be emailed to the Recreational Director at one of your partnering retirement/LTC homes. The letters will be printed by the in-home staff and delivered to the senior residents.

Smiles will be created, on both ends!

Quick Summary

WHAT:  The Caring and Connecting Pen Pal Initiative.

WHO: Community members & senior citizens living in long-term care and retirement homes.

WHY: To bring smiles by connecting community members with the elderly who are isolated, and unable to have visitors due to lockdowns.


  1. Send an email to to receive instructions.
  2. Write your letter and send it to us. You will have the option of sending one-way letters, or potentially having a two way correspondence.
  3. Join the Facebook group “Caring and Connecting Initiative” for instructions, updates, and information.

WHERE: Your own home! (letters will be sent electronically to retirement homes, where they will then be printed).

WHEN: You can begin writing your letters after: 1) sending an email to saying “I’m interested” and 2) Answering the questions and reading the instructions on the follow-up email that will be sent to you.

Quarantined regards,

Charmaine Holland & Aliza Prodaniuk

Comments (1)

[…] eye out for opportunities to volunteer, but from the safety of my own home. I recently came across Caring and Connecting, a pen pal initiative run by two local women, here in Niagara, […]

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