Virus causes Greenwood House pen pal program to go viral

Residents at Greenwood House and Greenwood House Abrams Residence are receiving dozens of pen pal letters a day.

Residents at Greenwood House and Greenwood House Abrams Residence are receiving dozens of letters a day, and all it took was a social media post on Facebook.

“Our new Pen Pal Program is a welcome surprise for our staff, residents and patients,” Greenwood House Executive Director Richard Goldstein said in a prepared statement. “Just a week after the post and we had reached over 28,000 Facebook users. I think we can safely say that a virus has caused our new program to go viral.

“Thanks to one motivated lady and dedicated Greenwood House supporter, Carli Masia, who proposed an idea that could be wonderful and engaging for our residents and the community, our Pen Pal Program was born,” he said.

The Pen Pal Program connects people of all ages from literally over the country with Greenwood House. The activities department snapped photos of interested residents holding the sign made by Masia, we launched the post on Greenwood House’s Facebook page, and letters, poems, photo albums, artwork and cards arrived.

“We’ve been pleasantly overwhelmed with the correspondence we’ve been receiving,” Goldstein said in the statement. “The program has been quite a surprise, and the letters coming from all over, bringing so much joy for our residents. We are now going to connect pen pals with our home care clients as well.”

“What was truly wonderful was when the residents wrote to a pen pal and then received their first responses back. Talk about smiles. Joseph, a short-term resident, and I were ecstatic when he wrote to his pen pal, Athena, and he received a 4-page letter back from her. Pen pals were something the two of them shared they both did in the 1970s and welcomed seeing making a comeback,” Sherry Smith, director of Marketing, said in the statement.

“It’s been truly uplifting to see how the letters have brightened our residents’ day,” Masia said in the statement. “We are social beings, so even when the note is from someone they don’t know, it reminds them someone is thinking of them. It may seem like a small thing, but if you want to make someone’s day, let them know you’re thinking of them. It makes all the difference.”

Studies show that finding ways to stay connected has a direct impact on mental health and improves well-being, according to the statement.

“General words of encouragement to hang in there as things looked so different this past year, reassuring the resident our families and community love them, want them to be well, and that things will gradually get back towards normal,” Cara Willis, director of Social Work at Greenwood House, said in the statement.

“Simple notes or handmade cards go a long way in assisting the impact of social isolation,” Goldstein said in the statement. “We’ve seen the positive impact it’s had on our residents … it’s been heartwarming.”

Masia said this is a great project for families, especially those with children, who are searching for different activities to occupy their time.

To send a note to a Greenwood House pen pal, simply write “Dear Greenwood House Friend” and mail it to Greenwood House, Pen Pal, 53 Walter St., Ewing 08628. 

Greenwood House is a nonprofit, mission-based organization and an industry leader in providing high quality senior healthcare in the State of New Jersey, specializing in short and long-term care, rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living, home care, home health aide and hospice care.

Follow Greenwood House on Facebook @GreenwoodHouseNJ and visit