Students Bringing L.O.V.E. to Senior Citizens During COVID-19 Pandemic

By Virginia Limmiatis

More than 60 middle and high school students from the Syracuse City School District and surrounding areas, including Rochester and Binghamton, and students from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia, are joining Syracuse Expeditionary Learning Middle School student, Samaia Goodrich, in a L.O.V.E. Letter Project to ensure that senior citizens know they are not alone and they are loved.

The student volunteers are delivering more than 3,000 personalized, L.O.V.E. (Let Our Voices Echo) Project branded postcards to nursing homes and retirement facilities in their communities.

“When I first heard that everyone was having to be quarantined, and older adults in our communities were not going to be able to have visitors, or see their children, grandchildren or friends, I thought it just wasn’t right. Our aging population needs to be safe and healthy, but they also need to know that someone cares and that they are not invisible. They’ve seen and been through a lot in their lives. We want them to know that young people care about them. They mean the world to us,” said Samaia Goodrich.

The 12-year-old middle schooler wanted to do something meaningful to help counteract the loneliness and despair that many people were experiencing as a result of COVID-19.  “I saw a need and I asked myself if I could help meet that need, and then I reached out to my family and friends to help me develop the idea. I know we can’t do everything, but together we can all do something. L.O.V.E. travels,” said Samaia.

“Thank you to National Grid, the YWCA and more than 50 individual sponsors for believing in young people like us. Service is life, so let’s live,” said Samaia.

National Grid’s funding of $2,500 helped to launch the L.O.V.E Letter Project and bring it to communities beyond the Syracuse City School District. The corporate sponsorship provided the necessary resources for Samaia to reach a wider student population outside Syracuse, too.

“In these unprecedented times, we are proud to support Samaia and the dozens of student volunteers to help make their vision a reality,” said Alberto Bianchetti, National Grid Central New York Regional Director. “Our aging population has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. The L.O.V.E. Letter Project is a meaningful way to inspire young minds to think globally and to make a difference in the lives of older adults who have been significantly impacted by the crisis.”

Each student volunteer will receive a ‘L.O.V.E. Note Kit’ containing 50 postcards, along with instructions, gloves and a pen, and a L.O.V.E. branded sweatshirt as a special gift for volunteering.

“I believe writing and signing the cards will bring us all hope. It will make all of us feel good about ourselves and feel like we are doing something positive and worthwhile. With all the students joining me in making the L.O.V.E. Letter Project a reality, we will become ‘The Difference’ in this crisis,” said Samaia.

“The YWCA is very excited to partner with National Grid and the young people of the LOVE Project to ensure that the senior citizens in our community are taking care of with LOVE,” said Fannie Villerreal, YWCA Executive Director. “We are excited that students representing schools from within the city, county and beyond, have come together to implement such a well thought out and much needed initiative.  It gives us great pleasure to further our mission by nurturing the leadership of young women like Samaia in our community.”

If you are interested in supporting the L.O.V.E. Letter Project, please contact youthservenow@gmail.com or call (315) 217-5052.

About L.O.V.E. (Let Our Voices Echo) Letter Project

Samaia Goodrich is a Syracuse Expeditionary Learning Middle School student and Prudential Spirit of Community National Award Winner.

Inspired to help counteract the loneliness and despair that many older adults experience during the COVID-19 quarantine, Samaia, developed the L.O.V.E Letter Project. She and dozens of student volunteers are delivering hand-written postcards with messages of hope and healing into the hands and hearts of senior citizens nationwide.

“Together we can all do something. Be the difference. L.O.V.E. travels.” – Samaia Goodrich