GREENVILLE, Pa.—Members of the Thiel College student community from as far away as Nevada and as near as neighboring towns joined together and sent letters, photos and notes of encouragement to the residents of St. Paul’s Senior Living Community in Greenville, Pa.
Director of Student Activities and Involvement Than Oo collected and distributed 19 letters so far. Oo said the submission window is open for students to continue corresponding with the residents.
“During this time of social distancing, many residents of the St. Paul’s community near campus have no choice but to remain indoors. St. Paul’s is a close partner of the college,” Oo said. “We hope this small act of kindness can help brighten someone’s day especially when they have minimal contact from friends, family, and the outside.”
The letters included stories, encouraging words and at least one safe-for-grandparent joke as well as details about what is happening in the students’ hometown and the students’ plans.
Sophomore Dionna D’Orsi ’22 is a criminal justice major from Las Vegas said, “I am writing this to you to let you know many are thinking about you, and you are not alone in this fight. Although these times may be hard not being able to go outdoors, we have to keep our heads held high together and remember the good out of this, which is our health.”
Sophomore exercise science major Zachary Lyons ’22, of Franklin, Pa., used the letter as an opportunity to reconnect with the residents he met while on a job shadow at St. Paul’s.
“This virus has affected all of us and has inhibited everyone in the entire world from seeing friends and family alike. Prior to the outbreak, and some of you may have seen me from time to time, I was shadowing with the physical therapy team. I had the pleasure of meeting some of you during my time there. It was very gratifying…to meet some amazing people and hear some grand stories. This pandemic will pass, and when it does, we will all reunite with friends, family, and overall become stronger as people.”
Sophomore English major Molly Shepler ’22, of Punxsutawney, Pa., said the letter writing was a helpful distraction for her during the stay-at-home orders as well as a source of cheer for the residents.
“I am so grateful that I get to write this little note to you because I believe it may serve as an encouragement for both you and me as we all continue living through these uncertain times,” she said.
Thiel College and St. Paul’s have several cooperative initiatives highlighted by the Joining Generations initiative which started in 2007. Through a variety of meaningful contacts, experiences and learning opportunities, this joint venture enables younger and older adults to more fully appreciate each other. Residents enjoy the college's arts, entertainment and sports while serving as guest speakers in the classroom, auditing classes, and fellowship through school events.
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