Kay Collier, Resident of Willow Valley Communities, Lancaster PA, remembers growing up during World War II and writing to a pen pal in England. She recalls the tremendous excitement of waiting for responses and the anticipation of future correspondence to a person she had never formally met.
Before retirement, Kay spent her professional career in public education. “Before I retired, I had only been out of school for three (3) years my entire life,” describes Kay. During her early retirement, Kay again got the urge to combine working with children and writing. Coordinating an eager group of fellow seniors and retirees, Kay contacted a local elementary 4th grade class and proceeded to match students with seniors. “To get started we would each write one (1) letter per month,” describes Kay. “Many of the first senior volunteers were former teachers, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Three years later, Kay’s pen pal group has expanded to over 40 elementary school students in two (2) classrooms. “For some children, receiving a handwritten letter is a new experience. ” says Kay. Ultimately Kay has found this emotionally rewarding. “For me it is second nature to volunteer. The reward is in giving, but you quickly realize that in giving you are also getting.” The excitement of writing letters all year culminates in a party at Willow Valley where the pen pals meet each other for the first time; a very rewarding experience for everyone. Share your pen pal memories in our comments section below!