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'Write a Senior Citizen' on Web

Ask Bob

Ask Bob

December 26, 2008|By BOB POOR

Q: My hobby is making greeting cards ... Christmas, birthday, promotion - you name it. I would love to send my cards to seniors who might enjoy receiving them. Where do I turn to find out how best to do this?

A: I do know of one possibility, in addition to, perhaps, working through local long-term care facilities. The program is called "Write a Senior Citizen" and was developed by John and Kelly Thomas, a brother and sister from California.

John, 18, and Kelly, 21, started their Web site in 1999 as a community outreach program with only five members. Today, it is reported to be the largest senior citizen pen pal site of its kind on the Internet, with more than 3,000 members.

After several years of volunteer piano playing at local retirement homes, and after observing how invigorated the residents seemed by their visits, John and Kelly came up with the "Write a Senior Citizen" idea. Realizing the great numbers of seniors who were in similar situations as their retirement home friends, the Thomases turned to the Internet.

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Their program allows people to e-mail any of the seniors listed on the site ... for contact and for pen pal relationships, if they wish. After promoting their Web site with a number of senior-related organizations and associations, the program has caught on and brings joy to many people. The site is maintained by adding participants who submit biographical info and complete other data, as requested.

Along the way, the program and the Thomases have garnered the following awards:

o First American recipients of the International Do a Good Deed Award

o City of Glendale Top 103 Outstanding Teenagers

o Congressional Commendation recognition from the U.S. Congress

o Special Recognition from California Legislature

A trip to the Web site - www.writeseniors.com - reveals sections on pen pal news, a chat room, memorials, senior citizen pen pal cookbook (favorite recipes from around the world) and pen pal safety tips (advice such as to never use your "real" e-mail address but to use a Hotmail account or other free e-mail service).

Searches can be initiated by name, topic, country, birth month and birth year. There also is a section where you can sign up to make your e-mail address available to other members of "Write a Senior."

In this Christmas season, it is a pleasure to hear about teenagers being commended by their communities, countries and the world. If you like being a pen pal, you might just enjoy matching up with a senior ... or two.

Merry Christmas.

Hagerstown resident Robert A. Poor is a member of the Society of Senior Advisers and provides senior professional services for reverse mortgages and personal insurance. He also is a member of the Senior Referral Center of Hagerstown. Questions are welcomed at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail c/o The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Robert A. Poor column.

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