SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – In mid-March, AristaCare at Cedar Oaks closed its doors to visitors as a result of the coronavirus and, over the past few weeks efforts are being made to brighten spirits and residents’ days. In addition to on-site events and working to ensure residents’ stay in touch with friends and family, the sub-acute rehab and long-term care facility, located on Durham Avenue, has launched a Pen Pal Club and is seeking community support. 

“Our residents are keeping in touch with what is going on and it helps that they have connections with their families, but we want them to be as connected as possible,” said Joselyn Delgado, the facility’s director of marketing. “We are really trying to keep their spirits up.”

Throughout the week, said Delgado, various events and activities are taking place and efforts are being made to ensure residents’ stay in touch with loved ones through phone calls and such online platforms as FaceTime. Through the Pen Pal Club, the hope, is that local children – and adults, too – will send in cards, letters, drawings, and words of encouragement.

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“We welcome letters of encouragement, pictures, cards and any drawings or things young people might want to color that will brighten their day. They can also share photos; that would be cool and would really connect our residents with the younger members of the community in a different way as well,” said Delgado, noting that AristaCare residents will be provided the supplies to write back and be encouraged to continue the correspondence. 

Under normal circumstances, AristaCare works actively throughout the year to connect its residents with local youth through a variety of intergenerational programs. “Some of our residents have lived here over a decade while others are brand new. We have some whose families are so dedicated and would come in daily while there are others who, unfortunately, don’t have that family tie,” she said, “It is good for both parties; the children and high schools get information on the senior citizen population and our seniors gets to engage with younger people, which keeps them current and involved and through the Pen Pal Club our hope is that we can continue that in some way.”

Additionally, over recent weeks, the facility has also increased efforts to boost morale among employees through staff lunches and sharing words of appreciation from families. “We are sharing stories from families with our staff. It solidifies what they are doing and why they are doing it,” she said, adding the community is welcome to send in letters, cards, and photos to staff, as well as residents, during this difficult time. 

“We really want to build the morale among our residents and keep their spirits high and would love for our staff to get some nice stuff, too,” Delgado said. 

Those looking to participate in the Pen Pal Club can mail items to AristaCare Pen Pal Club, 1311 Durham Avenue, South Plainfield, NJ 07080. Although no one is allowed into the facility, families and community members can still drop off items, however, everything must be cleared prior and left outside the front doors. For additional information, call AristaCare at Cedar Oaks at (732) 287-9555 or visit www.aristacare.com

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